Title IX discussion recap

HUSC hosted a convo-hour event for the Hamline community regarding Title IX and sexual harassment policies and information leaving students with mixed feelings.

Anika Besst, News Editor

Content Warning: This article includes discussion of sexual assault and hasrassment. 

The Hamline community faces another reckoning, this time about Title IX and sexual assault and harassment. 

On December 2, 2021 Hamline’s Undergraduate Student Congress (HUSC) hosted a Title IX conversation. During this meeting Patti Kersten and t. aaron hans, the Hamline Title IX coordinators, presented information and background on federal and university policies as well as fielded questions from the student body. 

This came after a recent instagram account made a post alledging a student of sexual assault based on an anonymous message. From there, an email was also sent by the Dean of Students office regarding this post and resources. 

“As you may be aware, a recent social media post, on an account not hosted by Hamline University, accused a student of sexual assault and raised concerns about the ability of the University to adequately respond under Title IX. Students have reached out to me with concerns regarding the post, and the potential harm it creates within our community with anonymous accounts and posts,” the November 4 email said. “Information often spreads on social media without regard to the impact on individuals and too often without a full grasp of what’s true. Naming individuals or “doxxing” can have devastating consequences to all parties involved and is not productive if the goal is to address Title IX concerns. Instead, if you know of or have experienced sexual assault… the best way to communicate those concerns and have the matter addressed is through the many resources available on campus.”

HUSC’s event attracted many students, filling the GLC lecture hall. 

“Given the situation and the limitations of HUSC’s abilities with Title IX issues, I think we did everything we can to help students understand the school’s processes more, which was our goal. I also think we helped by providing students with a safe space to voice their frustrations, which we knew was needed,” HUSC co-president Raina Meyer said. “There’s a lot of confusion surrounding what Title IX is and where its rules come from, and I think we were able to provide some helpful information about it.” 

Students felt the meeting provided helpful information regarding policy and procedure, and wish this was a conversation Hamline had more often. 

“I think the biggest thing was the education about the policies and how those work, but there wasn’t much conversation about progress. It was very broad, saying that we can do better but not specific things that they’re working towards,” Sophomore Lexi Borgesen said regarding her experience at the HUSC meeting. 

Junior Nayeli Pallais-Yllescas attended the event as well. 

“Our campus says it’s a very social justice-oriented campus and they say that they prioritize it. It is very much obvious that they don’t, just the lack of knowledge about [things],” she said. 

The presentation included information about the history of Title IX, other federal and state policies, Hamline policies and resources, what qualifies as harassment and assault, and steps forward. 

After the presentation portion, students had an opportunity to air questions or concerns. Pallais-Yllescas was the first student to speak. 

“I think [the question] had to be asked though, because like, if you’re the Title IX coordinators, you should have a response to why students aren’t comfortable coming forward…. obviously the policies and the way Hamline is going about it, it’s not efficient, it’s not effective. And it’s useless if it’s not helping students, if they’re not actually able to really use the resources they have,” she said. 

Across campus, there has been push back on the email regarding the angle it took. Many students thought there would have been an email notifying about the report of a sexual assault, as the Clery Act requires. 

This instagram post was also a topic of the meeting, as well as student’s feelings about coming forward. 

“I think there’s positives to [social media], but of course, there’s always negatives…. Like that’s a platform, students don’t get a platform very often. And especially in this day and age where a lot of [universities], they’re not going to make change unless their image is threatened,” Pallais-Yllescas said. “Students, we have the power of social media, and we’re utilizing it because that’s the only way that seems to be effective, which is really embarrassing if that’s like the only way to get your school to listen.”

Title IX coordinators emphasized their role of support for students as this conversation continues. 

“As things have come to light in different ways, I’ve always been open for conversations and hopefully my door has appeared open and I’ve been open to talk with students about concerns or questions that they have at any point in time. And that’s really happened a lot in the last couple of weeks where people have reached out and asked questions, reached out for clarity, reached out for reporting options, just reaching out,” Kersten said. “I think that we’re at a point in time where there’s been attention drawn to this across the university that creates an option or an energy right now, to be able to truly get people back and involved in some of the programs and experiences that we had pre-COVID.”