They say, “practice makes perfect,” but for something as serious as Title IX matters, we might say, “perfect practice makes perfect.”
For staff and students, having the proper training can mean the difference between burying a complaint and serving justice, or even preventing the incident in the first place. The numbers, arrangement, and degree of training for staff are all factors of great importance; for students, the presence and availability of Title IX information is crucial. Here are some things to remember when addressing campus-wide training:
- Keep it Flexible: Getting too rigid with your training methods doesn’t bode well for future results. While you should have no shortage of material from the OCR to work with, everyone knows that reading bullet points from a PowerPoint for hours on end is not the most effective way to impart information. In order to use this important information to protect students, campus staff has to remember it first; training delivered in an engaging manner will facilitate learning, and help set up staff for success.
- Cast a Wide Net: Don’t fall into complacency and include only OCR directives in your training. Title IX staff needs to have all pertinent information at their fingertips, and that means covering all the bases.
Knowledge of due process is particularly important; a sexual misconduct investigation can only proceed fairly if the rights of both the complainant and the accused are held in full consideration. There are many examples of cases where certain assumptions or beliefs held by those involved have tainted the judicial process, leading to more problems down the line. Having well-trained staff who understand both sides of an investigation is the best way to ensure fair processes.
- Keep Track of Progress: The OCR best practices document issued in 2014 advises the use of a “mechanism” for issuing Title IX training with regularity and keeping track of this training. Even if your resolution agreement doesn’t require it, this practice is a great way to ensure your Title IX staff members are staying up to date in their progress, and that their progress is effective. Regulating Title IX training, especially at large schools where the number of assigned staff might be quite high, keeps everyone on the same page and produces consistency throughout your institution.
- Make it Visible: Schools are required to release certain information to new students: definitions of important terms (consent, sexual violence, etc.), descriptions of ways to report or intervene in sexual misconduct, and the procedures that take place during a Title IX investigation are just some of the messages sent out to newcomers. The key issue here is one of visibility – how can we make sure this information is seen and remembered? Most residential institutions have student orientation programs that are usually well-attended; this provides staff with a defined environment in which these important messages can be spread. Staff at schools without these programs has to get a little more creative in their efforts to make this information visible; emails, online tutorials, and even face-to-face meetings are all possible tools. Every school is different – the greater your understanding of your students and their campus environment, the more effective your plan will be.
These are just a few of the many important considerations to make while preparing for Title IX training on campus. With the right kind of effort, focus, and understanding of the goals at hand, we can create a well-educated campus that’s safe and enjoyable for everyone.
Have you conducted Title IX training at your school? Do you have any suggestions or resources to add? Share in the comments below.
France, Lucy T. “I Fought Authority and Authority Always Wins – Strategies for Pushing Back on OCR”. University of Montana, 22-23 January 2016. Web.