Title IX is a federal law that was implemented in 1972 stating that no person should be denied their right to an education, and no person should experience discrimination of any kind within their education system. Each school or university has some form of this law that applies to it, and can be built upon by the system if so desired. Centre College has its own Title IX policy as well, and the sexual misconduct portion of the policy has gone through many changes since the start of the school year. These changes were largely due to two of Centre’s own students, juniors Olivia Renfro and Annie Trentham. Olivia and Annie worked tirelessly to edit the school’s Title IX policy to make it more clear and concise, and to offer a variety of different options to victims of sexual misconduct when going through the reporting process.
The devil is in the details, so both women went through Centre’s policy, picking out various different points and thinking of ways to make them more explicit. They changed the language of the policy to ensure that there would not be any blurred lines when it comes to the details of each case. The school now provides a list of all of the possible punishments for offenders of sexual misconduct, including expulsion. In addition, there is now a listing of the process of reporting any form of sexual misconduct while studying abroad. Making the language of the sexual misconduct policy more specified allows Centre to cover all necessary bases to ensure the safety and protection of survivors, and the student body as a whole.
A particularly unique addition to the policy is its new online reporting system. This system is a means for those who have experienced sexual misconduct to anonymously report what has occurred. This tool serves many purposes. Chiefly, it provides survivors the ability to avoid a face-to-face interview about what he or she has experienced. “It can be very difficult to reiterate what happened to you in person,” Olivia said. It is intimidating to meet with administrators and open up about a very personal and traumatizing situation. The online reporting system gives a sense of security and relief to those who wish to report what has happened to them. Currently, cases of sexual misconduct are underreported. This tool will hopefully allow individuals to feel more comfortable reporting, thus providing the college a better gauge of the issue at hand. “Once reporting numbers are up to what they truly are, hopefully we can work then to lower them in general. We need to get to the true reporting number first,” Annie said. The online reporting system was implemented with the intent to open many new doors for survivors of sexual misconduct, to keep this issue from being hidden or neglected.
Both the linguistics change and the new tools provided are going to greatly change the dynamic of everyone on campus. Now, the reporting process will be much easier and free of intimidation. “It will be easier for students who have had an incident to go through the process, and it changes the role that the administrators have,” Olivia said. Now, anyone who feels they have been a victim of sexual misconduct has the ability to speak out and be heard.
Olivia and Annie saw that sexual misconduct on campus was not being talked about, and only the bare minimum was being done to prevent it. “The minimum is not enough,” Annie said. Beginning last year, these two women took initiative and became heavily involved with Centre’s Title IX team, as well as the resources available to survivors both on and off campus. Olivia conducted interviews with 32 members of the faculty and staff, and spoke with eight of the eleven Greek organizations. Annie spent her entire spring break memorizing the sexual assault policy, focusing much of her time on the legality of her and Olivia’s approach to the reformations. Even after the sexual misconduct portion of the school’s Title IX policy had changes made, the two did not stop working there. They continue to set up many campus wide events to bring awareness to the reality of the issue of sexual misconduct. They are hosting the It’s On Us week this October, as well as the second annual Take Back the Night, which will be in April. In addition, they have coordinated a convocation with the Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear, on November 2. A program called “Green Dot” is also going to be coming to campus. This program teaches the importance of bystander awareness and intervention, training individuals on how to step in if they see someone in a potentially dangerous situation. Olivia and Annie are going to be looking for students who would like to go through the training program in the upcoming weeks.
Centre College’s Title IX sexual misconduct policy went through countless changes in the past year, all with the intent of providing safety and comfort to those individuals who have experienced any form of mistreatment. The changes that Olivia and Annie have fought for are evidence that there is a brighter future for those who have experienced any form of sexual misconduct. There are now a multitude of resources available to survivors, who deserve to be heard and cared for so that they do not feel alone. The benefit of these changes cannot only be seen in the greater security students can find on campus, but the greater attention and investment they can put into their education with the knowledge that they will be protected.