In May, a report came out with a list of schools under investigation for possible violations on Title IX management of sexual assaults, with Wittenberg listed with two open cases. Since the report came out, Wittenberg’s two cases have merged into one, and the school has made some changes to its sexual awareness campaigns.
“While we will continue to offer the multitude of training opportunities that have existed in the past,” Dean of Students Casey Gill said, “there will be an annual re-commissioning [of] the Cross-Divisional Title IX Working Group under the leadership of Wittenberg’s Title IX Co-Coordinators to: 1) continue the work of educating key stakeholders through discussion and case studies, 2) oversee and assess a coordinated campus response to issues of sexual violence with special attention to our policies and procedures for reporting and investigating cases, and 3) partner with interested on- and off-campus entities to pursue external funding to support Title IX initiatives on our campus.”
Currently, there are more than 20 educational programs in place to raise awareness. But sophomore Lane Schlicher thinks Wittenberg could do more.
“I know they sent out a revised code and alerted the students,” Schlicher said, “but that’s it. I do believe the issue on campus has become more well-known. Wittenberg even forces students to take a short seminar during new student days, educating freshman on what sexual assault is….I’m glad that Wittenberg is trying to get the situation under control now, but there are many other aspects that play into sexual assault that Wittenberg also needs to control. This includes the amount of underage drinking that takes place on campus.”
Sophomore Catie Stewart also commented on how Wittenberg’s programming is changing. To her, it is becoming a better resource for the students.
“I have seen [an] increase in the involvement of student organizations like the Sociology Club and No Woman Left Behind,” Stewart said. “There is also talk about starting a self-defense class, and I am sure more ideas will continue to progress over the year.”
Stewart also said that organizations have more information to contact help and assets to use if someone is assaulted or in an abusive relationship.
“Maintaining an open dialogue on these issues is critically important,” Gill said. “It should also be noted that The U.S. Department of Education fully acknowledges that being on the list of schools under investigation ‘in no way indicates at this stage that the college or university is violating or has violated the law.’”
The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has been investigating Wittenberg’s case since 2011. Wittenberg allowed students and Title IX coordinators to be interviewed last spring, and has released over 5,000 documents to the OCR that involved the university’s procedures, training, and investigations.