Title IX FAQ 

What is Title IX?

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 protects people from sex discrimination in educational programs and activities at institutions that receive federal financial assistance.  The University is committed to providing an environment free from discrimination on the basis of sex, which includes sexual misconduct.

Who is Sewanee’s Title IX coordinator?

Dr. Sylvia Gray (931.598.1420, Woods Lab 138, smgray@sewanee.edu or titleix@sewanee.edu)

What is “Clery reporting”?

The University prepares an annual report to comply with the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Crime Statistics Act. The Clery Act (20 USC § 1092(f)) is a federal law that requires colleges and universities across the United States to disclose information about crime on and around their campuses. It requires colleges and universities to:

  • publish an Annual Security Report by October 1, documenting three calendar years of select campus crime statistics
  • maintain a public crime log
  • disclose crime statistics for incidents that occur on campus, in unobstructed public areas immediately adjacent to campus, and at certain non-campus facilities

The University's annual report is prepared by a team bringing together several offices and departments: the Office of the Dean of Students, in the College of Arts and Sciences; the Office of Institutional Research; the Office of Legal Counsel; the Marketing and Communications Department; and the Sewanee Police Department. The report is e-mailed to the entire campus community and can be found on the University website.

What’s the difference between the reporting requirements of Title IX and the Clery Act for cases of sexual misconduct?

While both Title IX and the Clery Act contain reporting requirements concerning cases of sexual misconduct, the requirements are not identical.

Title IX provides that no person may be subjected to discrimination on the basis of sex under any educational program receiving federal financial assistance. A school must respond promptly and effectively to sexual harassment, including sexual violence. When responsible employees know about possible sexual misconduct, they must report what they know to the Title IX coordinator or other school designee.  The University must respond to sexual violence that occurs in the context of a school’s education programs and activities (including academic, educational, extracurricular, athletic, and other programs, whether those programs take place in a school’s facilities, on a school bus, at a class or training program sponsored by the school at another location, or elsewhere).

Under the Clery Act, the University must disclose accurate and complete crime statistics for incidents that are reported to campus security authorities and local law enforcement as having occurred on or near the campus (crimes include criminal homicide, rape and other sexual assaults, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, and others). “Clery Geography” includes three general categories: campus (academic buildings, residence halls, Greek houses, etc.); non-campus property owned or controlled by a recognized student organization; and public property within the reasonably contiguous geographic area of the institution (sidewalks, streets, etc.).

What does “on campus” mean at Sewanee for Clery reporting?

Much of Sewanee’s Domain beyond central campus is regularly used by students, for research and outdoor lab work, recreation, socializing, and special events. The University therefore defines “on campus” for purposes of Clery reporting as the area bounded by the Perimeter Trail. For purposes of crime reporting, the downtown area, the Sewanee Market, Lake Cheston, and part of the Mountain Goat Trail are all considered to be on campus.  Sidewalks and streets on campus fall into the “public property” category. Examples of “non-campus” property include Lost Cove and Lake Dimmick.

What is Sexual Discrimination and how does it differ from Sexual Misconduct?

Sex Discrimination is a broad term that encompasses several forms of prohibited conduct. Sex discrimination includes sexual misconduct such as non-consensual sexual contact, non-consensual sexual intercourse, sexual exploitation, sexual harassment, dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking.
*Sexual misconduct is a form of discrimination under federal civil rights laws. Most forms of sexual misconduct also constitute crimes in Tennessee and throughout the United States.

*You may see Sex Discrimination and Sexual Misconduct used interchangeably, however sexual misconduct is a form of sex discrimination.

Why aren’t all cases of sexual misconduct turned over to the police?

Reporters may take action through the student discipline process, through the criminal justice system, or through both. When the reporter is known -- some reports are anonymous and give only gender and the location of alleged incident -- the reporter is put in contact with law enforcement, and the reporter's options are fully presented. The University encourages reporters to consult fully about legal options.

A reporter may choose not to pursue criminal action, and the University's experience has been that students rarely choose the criminal process.  Of the sexual misconduct incidents reported to the university in 2013, none were pursued through law enforcement, in accordance with the wishes of the reporters.

When a student decides to turn to the police with a report of sexual misconduct, the University simultaneously conducts its own investigation of the allegation and takes appropriate action as required by Title IX.

Can reports of sexual misconduct be submitted anonymously?

Yes. The University has an online reporting system that allows for anonymous reports. In addition, reports to University Counseling Service or University Health Services, to the University Chaplains, or to off-campus rape crisis resources can be kept confidential.  Certain statistics concerning these incidents, rather than detailed information, must be reported to comply with federal requirements.  Other employees are obligated to report all incidents of sexual misconduct to the Office of the Dean of Students and the Title IX Coordinator.

The Office for Civil Rights has issued guidance that “the [University] should take all reasonable steps to investigate and respond to the Report consistent with the request for confidentiality or request not to pursue an investigation.” The University’s ability to respond is limited when an incident is reported without specific names. More than half of the incidents reported in 2013 were anonymous.

How are student penalties for sexual misconduct determined?

Filing a formal charge of sexual misconduct against another student could result in formal disciplinary action if the respondent is found responsible. Possible sanctions include, but are not limited to, warning, probation, suspension, and expulsion. Students involved may also be required to attend appropriate drug or alcohol rehabilitation programs or other types of counseling.

Sexual misconduct includes a range of behaviors of varying degrees of severity. The sanctions available for these behaviors are intended to reflect the facts and circumstances of a particular case as best they can be determined, and are premised on the University’s role as an educational institution.

The decision of whether or not a student is responsible for the alleged charges depends upon "preponderance of evidence.” A “preponderance of evidence” means that there is 51% certainty that the respondent is responsible for a violation of the sexual misconduct policy, and this standard of evidence is mandated by the Office for Civil Rights. 

Are parents or guardians notified?

The University reserves the right to notify parents/guardians of dependent students regarding any health or safety risk, change in student status, or conduct situation, particularly concerning alcohol and other drug violations. When a student is not dependent, the University will contact parents/guardians to inform them of situations in which there is a significant health and/or safety risk.

What is the University doing, beyond discipline, to combat sexual misconduct?

The University’s efforts fall into five main categories:

1) Monitoring. The University routinely evaluates the campus environment to understand students' experiences, especially concerning social activities, patterns of behavior, and students' health and safety. 

2) Prevention.  Based on these assessments of campus culture, the University develops prevention programs to address concerns strategically.  

3) Response.  When incidents happen, the University's response includes supporting students and their friends, preserving evidence, gathering critical information, providing medical response, informing victims of their options, and creating an environment that feels safe.  

4) Partnerships.  The University has entered into a partnership with medical professionals from area emergency departments, and works as well with the Franklin County Sheriff's Department and the District Attorney's Office to ensure readiness and cooperation.

5) Training.  The University trains students on effective bystander intervention. Residential life staff, Greek leaders, Women's Center residents, and peer educators all receive basic training on prevention and response. Staff members involved in the investigation and hearing process receive training to understand the issues and prepare for their roles.

The University has instituted a range of programs to promote respect on campus, prevent sexual misconduct, and encourage reporting when misconduct does occur:

  • ReThink: Respect and Dignity, a task force begun in 2012, engaged the broad topic of respect, including respect for self, respect for others, and respect for the welfare of the community.
  • Following the recommendations of this task force, the University focused efforts during the 2013-14 academic year in key areas: prevention, reporting, investigations, and training.  All are ongoing.
  • Prevention efforts have included bystander intervention training, "Choices 101" first-year programming, campus-wide events, and a value-based “know thyself” program.
  • Reporting and investigation efforts have included the facilitation of an environment of transparency and trust among students, faculty, staff and the broader Sewanee community; developing a SHARE -- Sexual Harassment & Assault Resource Educators -- team; improving the gathering of information, including allowing anonymous reports; and developing a clear, published enforcement process.
  • The University publishes monthly an “Inside the Gates” email message, transparently reporting the most recent conduct violation statistics, including reports of incidents of sexual misconduct.
  • The University has also established the Sexual Assault Response Team, or SART, which is a partnership between the Franklin County Sheriff's Department, the District Attorney's office, the Southern Tennessee Regional Health System (formerly Emerald Hodgson Hospital), and the University, especially involving deans, health and counseling services, and the Women's Center.
  • Training efforts have included values-based education in small groups, peer education programs, and the training of all participants in relevant processes. Staff from the Chattanooga Rape Crisis Center provided training for key health and counseling staff, police, members of the SHARE team, and the Faculty Discipline Committee.  (In 2014-15 this Committee is evolving into a University Conduct Committee.)
  • All incoming first-year students are now required to complete an on-line alcohol education course containing a module on sexual misconduct that focuses on intervention and bystander behavior.
  • Student organizations, including the Women’s Center and Greek organizations, have taken part in the planning and implementation of these efforts. Students, for example, brought Katie Koestner, founder of the Take Back the Night Foundation and the first survivor of date rape to speak out publicly, to speak on campus.

Where can I find more information?

Information may be found on several related topics in the annual Security and Fire Safety report (updated each October 1)