Students Participate in Title IX Roundtables

In reaction to recent questions and concerns about Title IX policies, the Dean of Students’ office acted in order to hear what university students had to say. Led by Ashley Dunn, Assistant Director of Student Life Programs and Title IX Coordinator, the roundtable on Thursday, Oct. 12th was set up as an open forum for students to voice their worries not only about the possibility of changing Title IX policies, but also as an opportunity for students to learn more about campus sexual harassment and assault.

“I started the roundtables last fall with the intent of wanting to get a lot of different students together, from first year students to seniors,” said Dunn. “Given a lot of stuff in the newspaper that students were concerned about, or with the major media presence around Title IX and sexual violence, I thought it would be a good opportunity to start these up again.”

Dunn ran similar roundtables last year, introducing over 70 students between the fall and spring semesters to the discussions about sexual assault. Each meeting saw anywhere between 10 to 15 students in order to facilitate a dialogue that would contain various student perspectives and experiences. However, being only the second roundtable of the semester, turnout came to a measly three students. Instead of focusing on issues of Title IX and Sexual Assault, Dunn asked the students about what steps could be taken in order to increase student attendance.

“I feel like students feel like this no longer applies to them,” said one student. “Like, ‘I don’t do it’ so why come if they don’t feel responsible?”

“I did hear from a lot of students last year who felt that they already knew what they needed to know,” said Dunn in response to this student. “I have a scenario worksheet that I usually do at roundtables and when we start to walk through a scenario and I say ‘How confident would you be in dealing with this scenario?’ or ‘How confident do you feel in supporting your friend?’ a lot of people are like ‘No way. I don’t know what I would do. I have no idea how I would handle that situation.’ So I think when we are presented with a specific incident, it’s much easier to see that there is area for growth here, but generally people feel that they know what they need to know.”

Dunn stressed that there were a lot of specifics that students did not know, despite feeling confident in their knowledge when it comes to sexual assault and abuse. She shared anecdotes where students could not describe different kinds of partner abuse (physical, verbal, emotional, etc.) or that students underestimate or are oblivious to the real statistics of sexual violence.

Despite a lower turnout than expected, Dunn will continue to host these Title IX and Sexual Assault roundtables throughout the semester and strongly encourages everyone to come. No one is immune from sexual assault and awareness through education is imperative.