By Rebecca Flannery
Baylor University is planning to hire a new Title IX coordinator this semester to aid the university with its federally required duties.
Institutions that receive funding from Title IX, a federal student aid program, are required by the Clery Act to provide the Department of Education with data about sexual assault cases on their campuses. In addition, institutions must provide campuses with a Title IX coordinator.
Baylor Police Chief Brad Wigtil said Baylor is hiring the coordinator to organize the university’s Title IX responsibilities as well as provide information to those who have been assaulted. The coordinator’s responsibilities range from staying educated on the changes Title IX undergoes and training staff responsible for implementing grievance procedures. The coordinator will will report to Juan Alejandro, interim vice president of governance and risk, and chief compliance officer for the university.
“I think there’s this myth that if sexual violence occurs, you have to report it to the police,” Wigtil said. “No, you don’t have to. We would want people to, but if they don’t feel comfortable taking it to the justice system, they can report it to judicial affairs, go to the counseling services or go to the Title IX coordinator.”
The latest data released from the U.S. Department of Education shows an increase of total sex offenses on Baylor’s campus from zero cases in 2011 to six in 2013.
Wigtil said the rise in Clery data could be associated with the university’s efforts to make reporting cases less daunting for assaulted victims. He said students are able to talk to departments outside of the police force in order to report Clery statistics.
“Baylor has really made it a priority to deal with this issue starting back in 2013 as far as reaching out to students and implementing education programs,” Wigtil said. “I think people do feel more comfortable reporting these incidents, even if they don’t feel comfortable reporting it to the police department.”
In March, stalking, intimidation, dating violence, domestic violence and hate crimes were officially listed as an offense in the Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act.
“The Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act increases transparency on campus about incidents of sexual violence, guarantees victims enhanced rights, sets standards for disciplinary proceedings and requires campus-wide prevention education programs,” according to the Clery Act Center’s website.
One more stipulation to campus crime reporting was published Monday.
According to a press release from the Department of Education,“the final rule requires an institution to record incidents of stalking based on the location where either the perpetrator engaged in the stalking or the victim first became aware of the stalking.”
Officer Kandy Knowles, a Baylor crime prevention officer, along with several other faculty on campus, created a sexual assault prevention campaign this year called Bear Up Now to combat sexual assault. The campaign employs the use of peer leaders and includes a more streamlined seminar for freshmen. Additionally, Bear Up Now has a website to make help make information more accessible to those affected by sexual crimes.
“When we do the trainings, we make students more aware of what actually constitutes a sexual assault,” Knowles said. “It’s not necessarily about rape, but it could be a sexual contact that’s offensive.”
Knowles provides classes on sexual harassment and rape prevention tactics for students on campus, as well as group discussions about how to handle situations of sexual assault. She said this was the first year the department has trained peer leaders on how to handle sexual assault cases.
Highland Park junior Caroline Nelson is a peer leader who helped with a Bear Up Now seminar at the beginning of the semester. She said the most important piece of information she was taught is to know how to respond to someone who is sexually assaulted.
“Whether it happens to you or a friend, it is never the assaulted person’s fault,” Nelson said. “Our goal is to prevent rape culture and make sure the victim gets the help they need.”
Baylor’s Clery Act report is available online on the police department’s website, http://www.baylor.edu/baylor_police/.
“My hope is we can help people find those resources on campus to help them deal with the crisis they’ve experienced,” Wigtil said. “Even if you come to the police department to initially report it, that doesn’t mean you have to go forward with prosecution. If you come to the police department we can get you medical assistance and counseling assistance as needed.”
*Editor’s Note: Correction Oct. 24, 2014: This article has been corrected from it’s original version. The original article stated the Title IX coordinator would be hired by the Baylor Police Department. Instead, the coordinator will be hired by Baylor University.