by Anna R. Kratky, SLU Title IX Coordinator
When students are asked what words come to mind when thinking about Title IX, the most common responses are sexual assault and equality. When faculty are asked that same question, the answers are usually mandatory reporting and legal obligations. This highlights the progress the Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity (OIED) has made over the years in helping our faculty and staff understand the requirements of reporting Title IX disclosures. If you are wondering what exactly Title IX is or what to do if a student discloses something to you, keep reading! In the next five minutes you will be provided an overview of what Title IX means on SLU’s campus, how to support students, who to tell about a student Title IX disclosure, and prevention and programming efforts on campus this year. Note: while I am the Title IX Coordinator for the University, some areas (e.g., School of Law, School of Medicine, School for Professional Studies, SLU Madrid, and others) also have Deputy Title IX Coordinators as a resource to whom disclosures may be reported.
What is Title IX?
At SLU, there are five types of conduct that, if disclosed to a responsible employee, must be reported to the Title IX Coordinator: sexual harassment; sexual assault; intimate partner violence (whether that be from a partner or household member); stalking; and sexual exploitation. Sexual exploitation is taking sexual advantage of another for one’s own benefit or the benefit of another. For example, exposing one’s genitals without consent to another or taking a video or photograph of someone in a sexual situation without their permission is sexual exploitation.
Are you a responsible employee?
Did you catch the use of the term “responsible employee”? You may be wondering if you are a responsible employee. The short answer is that almost everyone who works at SLU is a responsible employee and must report Title IX disclosures. The folks that are exempt from this are those that work for the University Counseling Center, medical professionals in their capacity of providing medical care, and clergy/ordained ministers in their capacity of providing spiritual guidance.
What should you do when a student discloses?
So what should you do if a student discloses they were raped, assaulted, stalked, harassed, or have experienced harm by a partner or sexual exploitation? First and foremost, listen and support them. It would be inappropriate to draw conclusions about what happened, but phrases such as, “I am here to support you,” or “I am so sorry you are going through this” are helpful to show students that you care and are thankful that they spoke with you. It is perfectly acceptable for the student to share as little or as much about their situation as they want. You should not try to investigate or gather information from the student. Your job is to listen and then report to the Title IX Coordinator whatever details were shared. Because you are a “responsible employee,” you are obligated to report, even when the student does not want you to do so.
You do not need to tell your supervisor about the disclosure, but you can if you feel it is helpful. Our only request is that you keep the information as private as possible. In other words, please only tell individuals that need to know. In some cases the only person that needs to know may be the Title IX Coordinator – Anna Kratky, room 36 of DuBourg Hall, firstname.lastname@example.org, 314-977-3886.
How does Title IX support a student next?
Following a report of a disclosure, the Title IX Coordinator will reach out to the student and offer a wide range of resources and options. Some examples are: an investigation and/or No Contact Order (if the person accused is a SLU person), counseling, academic support (with the help of awesome faculty!), safety escorts, involvement of law enforcement, medical care or services, and/or immigration support. Every student’s situation is unique and the OIED will assist students in a way that is tailored to their needs.
Building a Culture of Respect
The OIED is a place of support for all members of the SLU community: students, faculty, staff and alumnae. However, it is not a resource that can alone address the issue of sexual harassment and violence on SLU’s campus. In November 2018, SLU was accepted into the third cohort of NASPA’s Culture of Respect Collective. This is an ambitious two-year program that brings together institutions of higher education who are dedicated to ending campus sexual violence and guides them through a rigorous process of self-assessment and organizational change. Each cohort relies on an expert-developed public health framework, cross-campus collaboration and peer-led learning to make meaningful programmatic and policy change.
After taking a self-evaluation that took the good part of a day, SLU’s campus leadership team, comprised of nearly 40 students, faculty and staff, identified 31 goals specific to the needs of our community. These goals encourage reporting, strengthen services and resources, clarify policies, and other steps necessary to reinforce our awareness, prevention and response to sexual violence on campus. If you would like to see these goals or offer your assistance in making these goals become a reality on campus, please contact the Title IX Coordinator. Please also contact the Title IX Coordinator if you would like her to speak to your class or your department about SLU’s Title IX programs, resources and initiatives on campus.
Thank you in advance for that all you do for our students and each other every single day. Your support and compassion are often what make the difference, and everyone in the Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity is forever grateful for you.
Anna R. Kratky has been the Title IX Coordinator at Saint Louis University since March 2015. She earned her bachelor’s degree in history from Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts and was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship in 2004. Anna went on to obtain her juris doctorate from Saint Louis University School of Law in 2008. Prior to entering the challenging landscape of Title IX and higher education, Anna was an assistant circuit attorney for the city of St. Louis, with a focus on domestic violence, sex crimes and child abuse.