Student Senate passes Title IX bill

The Baylor Student Senate discusses passing a bill about promoting changes to the Title IX office on Thursday. Photo credit: Jessica Hubble

By Thomas Mott | Reporter

The Baylor Student Senate passed a bill that helps create awareness for the new changes to the Title IX office, SR64-13, on Thursday night.

During the senate meeting, San Antonio junior Paige Hardy, member of the student body president’s cabinet and sexual assault victim* spoke in front of the entire Student Senate about her story and the improvements she hopes to make on campus regarding Title IX.

“I am not up here just to complain about the system. I’m not here to admonish anyone in particular. I’m here to say this campus has problems, and I have solutions, both simple and complex, which I want to be heard,” Hardy said.

Hardy said she supports the extensive changes to the Title IX Office; however, she argued that students have not properly been made aware of the new changes to the program, which include establishing Title IX obligations as in institutional priority, engaging in measures that will instill a consistent institutional understanding of Title IX obligations and committing sufficient infrastructure and resources for effective Title IX implementation.

One issue Hardy brought up is that there are still many fliers throughout campus that have Patty Crawford as the current Title IX coordinator. Crawford resigned from her position as Title IX Coordinator in October of 2016 and was replaced by Kristan Tucker.

Hardy said both she and other sexual assaults victims she knows were not informed by Baylor that Patty Crawford had resigned or that a new Title IX coordinator had been hired.

The current Title IX coordinator, Tucker, is responsible to “Oversee the investigation and resolution of matters involving sexual and gender-based harassment and intimate partner violence as well as coordinate the University’s Title IX training, prevention programming, and outreach in this area,” according to the Baylor Title IX website.

During the meeting, Hardy also said she had been wanting to start a support group for sexual assault victims only to find out through a friend that the Title IX Office already​ offers such a group through the Baylor Counseling Center. She said she was never notified personally, as a victim, that a support group was available to her.

“This is an issue that needs to be changed. The victims need more transparency. They need a place to go. I think [the bill] is a great way for students to say ‘Hey, we have an idea. Let’s try to fix it,’” said Waco junior and Student Senator Elizabeth Larson.

Hardy also said it took the Title IX Office four months to respond to her request for counseling regarding her assault.

The recent changes to the Title IX Office result from the Pepper Hamilton investigation into Baylor’s handling of sexual assaults at Baylor over the past couple of years. The Pepper Hamilton report called Baylor’s response to acts of sexual assault “wholly inadequate.” There were more than 100 changes made by Baylor regarding its Title IX Office following the recommendations stemming from the Pepper Hamilton report.

The Baylor Title IX website states, “We want to make sure that anyone who reports experiences related to such discrimination feels safe, knows her or his rights and is aware of all available resources and options to continue to have the opportunity to be successful.”

Hardy concluded her senate speech by saying that this will be the first of multiple bills focusing on Title IX, but that this first one is simple and to the point.

“The first bill can be summarized in one sentence: The Title IX department is changing, and students should know about it,” Hardy said.

“But as difficult as this is for me, I know other survivors have it much, much worse. I don’t see my attackers regularly. They aren’t athletes who’s pictures are posted on the walls of our campus, nor are they involved in executive positions of organizations. So here I stand for them,” Hardy said.

*: Typically, the Lariat does not identify the victims of sexual assault, however, Hardy’s name appeared on bill SR64-13 and Hardy agreed to having her name in print.