This article is part of our Campus Made Clear series. You can read the whole series here.
Tucked away in Old Morrison, the Title IX office is a safe space for those coping with a crime all too common: sexual misconduct.
The office is a relatively new addition to Transy’s campus, but provides a significant service for our community under the leadership of Amber Morgan.
Title IX was created by the Education Amendments of 1972, which attempted to combat gender inequality within “education programs and activities in federally funded schools at all levels,” according to the U.S. Department of Education. Because Transy receives federal funds for several programs, it falls under the jurisdiction of these amendments.
By 1993, surveys found that one in three women had experienced some type of sexual misconduct by their senior year. Universities were expected to handle these cases on their own, without federal oversight, which sometimes led to superficial investigations.
In 2011, the Title IX policy was updated to encompass sexual assault and harassment protections for students, faculty, and staff. The revised guidance, issued by the Department of Education, increased schools’ responsibility to address these issues. It required services on campus available to students, as well as prompt and thorough investigation of reported events. This included the requirement that schools hire a Title IX coordinator.
Before these reforms, campuses were not required to respond to sexual misconduct in the way that they are now. Even with significant policy changes, the rate of underreporting is still high.
Morgan has been a familiar face on Transy’s campus since 2016, but in a different role. She managed and continues to manage disability services on campus.
When Ashley Hinton-Moncer, the Title IX Coordinator from 2012 to 2018, took a position with University of Kentucky, Morgan was selected to replace her. Morgan soon sought out the proper training and became Transy’s Title IX Coordinator in February of 2018.
To report an incident, an individual can make an appointment with Morgan. Third party sources can anonymously submit a tip online. The reporting party—Morgan and most civil rights lawyers refrain from using the term complainant—cannot remain confidential to the respondent. The respondent has the right to know the details of the reported event before meeting with Morgan.
The reporting party has the choice of whether to move forward with an investigation sponsored by the university. If the reporting party decides to authorize an investigation, two investigators will gather information from social media, text messages, emails, and interview witnesses.
Once the initial investigation has been conducted and Morgan has met with both the reporting party and the respondent, both parties receive a dossier detailing the evidence. The reporting party can suggest possible sanctions on the respondent or drop the charges altogether.
The Transy Title IX policy protects both parties from retaliation.
If either the reporting party or respondent objects to an aspect of the dossier, the case goes to the Sexual Misconduct Hearing Board. Morgan must organize and present to the Board evidence received from both parties. The outcome of the case is not her decision. (Every case brought to the Title IX office is different, so this brief description is not an accurate timeline for every case.)
Morgan can communicate with other Title IX offices if an incident occurs on another campus, to use the judicial process at that institution.
The Title IX process can be traumatic for both the reporting party and the respondent. It requires an individual to recount often-painful memories and can cause a student to become distressed. Students in distress can exhibit decreased appetite, irregular sleeping patterns, missing classes, and missing other assignments regularly. If you have a concern about a friend or about yourself, the Counseling Center is always available.
Aside from coordinating investigations, education is a large part of Morgan’s job. From conducting an informational session about Title IX for athletes and Greek organizations to training members of the staff and faculty on campus annually, Morgan’s job is to make Transy’s campus a little bit safer.
Morgan wants students to know that “the Title IX office is here to listen and we are here to offer assistance. Students shouldn’t feel discouraged. People don’t have to be 100% or fairly certain of an instance of alleged sexual misconduct, but pass that information along. You may be the fourth or fifth person to tell me about this and that makes me think there might be some legitimacy to this.”
Morgan’s office is located in Old Morrison Room 111. She is in the office from 8:30 to 5:00 daily and can be reached by phone at (859) 233-8502 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can read more about Transy’s Title IX policy and procedures here.