CORAL GABLES, Fla. (February 27, 2015)—The University of Miami hosted a seminar titled “Preventing Campus Sexual Violence and Understanding UM Responsibilities under Title IX” on Thursday led by Peter F. Lake, an internationally known expert in the field. A professor of law, Charles A. Dana Chair, and director of the Center for Excellence in Higher Education Law and Policy at Stetson University College of Law, Lake, who is also his institution’s interim Title IX coordinator, had a simple message about a complex subject:
Title IX compliance is everyone’s job.
Enacted by Congress in 1972, Title IX is a comprehensive federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any federally funded education program or activity. It aims to eliminate barriers to educational opportunity caused by sex discrimination, including sexual harassment and violence.
The all-day seminar offered an overview of Title IX regulations with specific reference to the growing national concern about sexual violence on college campuses.
Storer Auditorium was nearly full, with attendees from throughout the University, including the medical and marine campuses, as well as the School of Law.
“This is a very, very important day for us at the University,” Patricia A. Whitely, UM’s vice president for student affairs, said. “I am delighted that this session has come together.”
Lake pointed to key Title IX cases of the last few years, such as those out of Yale, the University of Montana, and UNC Chapel Hill. He cited a report published in April 2014 by the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault called “Not Alone,” available at notalone.gov, which offers a series of Frequently Asked Questions to help navigate this complicated but potentially life-saving regulatory issue.
The bottom line is not only to know all the regulations of Title IX, said Lake, but also to humanize them and adopt the spirit of Title IX on an institutional level by owning and enacting it in four key areas: organization and management, investigation and discipline, victim and respondent rights and needs, and campus culture/climate. Compliance comes from “here and here,” Lake said, pointing to his heart and his head.
According to Lake, one in five women is sexually assaulted while in college, with freshmen and sophomores targeted most often. “Alcohol has been weaponized,” he added, referring to the increasing number of cases of “incapacitated assaults,” where victims are under the influence.
President Donna E. Shalala, who convened a 25-member Campus Coalition on Sexual Assault Prevention and Education at the University, spoke frankly at the opening of the event. “We have zero tolerance,” she said. “We are serious about the safety of everyone who works, studies, and gets services here. We want to create an atmosphere and culture that clearly says what is acceptable. We are fearless about taking on these cases.”
To learn more about Title IX compliance and resources at the University of Miami, visit http://www.miami.edu/index.php/wep/title_ix.