Opinion: Working Together to Create a More Just and Safe Community and World

By Sandy Chung and Matt Rygg | April 24, 2019 6:20pm
Photo courtesy of Sandy Chung.

Dear Members of the University of Portland Community,

As the end of the 2018-2019 academic year nears, we want to share some reflections about the work the Title IX team has done this year and the continued work we are engaged in towards a UP community and a world that is more just and safe. 


Education is the key to creating a more just campus community and society – one in which incidents of sexual and gender-based harassment, misconduct and violence are prevented. This academic year, the Title IX team reached many individuals across campus with our education efforts:

- 1,615 faculty, staff and students participated in Green Dot bystander intervention trainings.

- 865 first-year students participated in “Talk About It” education sessions in the residence halls that focused on consent, intoxication and incapacitation, Title IX resources, reporting, and support.

- 340 students and student-athletes participated in a consent education workshop facilitated by Mike Domitrz, a nationally recognized speaker in this area. Mike will be returning in Fall 2019 to speak to all first-year students during Orientation.

- 237 students and staff attended a 90-minute educational session called Through the Fog, which was created and facilitated by Allie Hill (Associate Professor of German and Deputy Title IX Coordinator for Education), Sarina Saturn (Assistant Professor of Psychology) and Jeff Kerssen-Griep (Professor of Communication Studies). In these sessions, students and staff discussed issues of power and privilege as they relate to relationships and sexual violence.

- 99% of on-campus students and 97% of off-campus students completed both online sexual assault and alcohol education trainings.

- 241 faculty, 270 student athletes, 54 resident assistants, 95 staff and administrators and all members of the President’s Leadership Cabinet attended Title IX workshops that provided education about Title IX policies and processes, reporting responsibilities, consent and how to respond to a student who reports a Title IX situation.

It should be noted, the above list does not include other excellent Title IX-related programs provided by Students against Sexual Assault (SASA) and other student groups and University departments.

Support, Resources & Investigations

When sexual and gender-based harassment, misconduct, and violence occurs, it is important that individuals impacted by such conduct receive support and have access to resources. Also, when such conduct may have occurred, it is important that such conduct be reported so that the University can investigate and apply its conduct process and standards.

This academic year, the Title IX team engaged in significant work in this area:

- The Title IX team provided support and resources to many students across campus who have been impacted by sexual and gender-based harassment, misconduct and violence, regardless of whether such situations occurred at UP, outside UP or before coming to UP. Such support and resources included a wide range of areas, such as academic accommodations, no contact orders, housing-related accommodations, and connections to support services applicable to specific situations. 

- The Title IX team received reports from students who had directly experienced sexual and gender-based harassment, misconduct and violence. We also received reports from students, faculty and staff who were witnesses to such situations or who were supporting students through such situations. The number of reports to the Title IX team increased significantly; we believe this was due to the University’s education efforts that helped UP community members know how to access Title IX support and processes.

- The Title IX team facilitated multiple investigations, conducted by investigators trained and experienced in trauma-informed approaches to investigations. 

- Several Title IX matters proceeded to Student Conduct, where determinations were made consistent with University standards and, if applicable, sanctioning principles. The University’s sanctioning principles provide for a range of sanctions from educational sanctions through expulsion.

The University was able to address Title IX matters because of the commitment of UP’s students, faculty and staff and the attention of community members to stepping forward as bystanders and reporters.

Working Together to Create a More Just and Safe Community and World

The Title IX team expresses deep gratitude to the many students, faculty and staff who have taken a stand against sexual and gender-based harassment, misconduct and violence – by attending training and education, acting as bystanders, making reports, supporting individuals impacted by inappropriate conduct and participating in Title IX processes. 

Most members of the Title IX team have worked in this area for many years. Several of us have experience doing Title IX work at other institutions of higher education, as well as experience doing comparable work outside of higher education in areas such as workplace sexual harassment, domestic violence and sexual trafficking. 

All members of the Title IX team are engaged in this work because we are committed to making our UP community and our world better. Despite the work’s challenges, we are heartened by the partnership of those on campus, and we hold to the hope of a more just future: 

Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief. Do justly, now. Love mercy, now. Walk humbly, now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.~Pirkei Avot 2:16

So whoever does an atom’s weight of good will see it. ~The Quran 99:7-8

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. ~Galatians 6:9

As we move forward, the Title IX team relies on the continued collaboration and support of each member of the UP community. This summer, the Title IX team will work on policies and processes in anticipation of new federal regulations; as well, we will work on developing new programs and expanding student-based resources. If you would like to participate, please let us know here: www.bitly.com/up-t9-summer2019

On behalf of the University of Portland Title IX Team, thank you for engaging with us in this important work and this moment of reflection. Our best wishes to you for a wonderful summer.

Sandy Chung, Vice President for Human Resources and Title IX Coordinator for Compliance, can be reached at chung@up.edu.

Matt Rygg, Associate Vice President for Student Development and Title IX Coordinator for Education, can be reached at ryggm@up.edu.