By: McKenna Palczak
In 1972, a federal law was passed that states that educational institutions cannot discriminate based on gender. This law is called Title IX, and it works to the benefit of both the students and faculty.
The law gained increased public awareness in the wake of the 2011 Sandusky scandal at Penn state. This scandal involved a coach who sexually assaulted children on campus. Sandusky’s colleagues knew about his wrongdoings, and brought it to the administration but nothing was done.
Under Title IX, the college’s employees were obligated to investigate, and put a stop to to the assault. Yet no one did either.
This scandal intensified the attention of SUNY schools on sexual assault, and two years ago they came to the agreement that Title IX would be strictly enforced. Not only at the college level, but at the public high school level as well.
Since then, every SUNY school in the state has a Title IX coordinator, a yearly faculty training, and a session at orientation to explain what Title IX can do for students.
Title IX has two major facets that it focuses on, sexual harassment, and gender equality in the world of sports.
At FM our Title IX coordinator is Jean Karutis, and anything that is sexual harassment or sexual assault related goes through her. As far as the sports facet, anything to do with that goes through the school’s Athletic Director, Kevin Jones.
Karutis says she is there to make sure that “students that feel that they have been harassed feel safe.” She says that all staff is on board with Title IX and if a student didn’t feel comfortable coming to her, they could always confide in another staff member and their voice would still be heard.
She also stated that it is her job to make sure the victim of such harassment doesn’t lose out on their degree because of such issues. Karutis ensures that that they take appropriate measures with the student to guarantee success.
For example, if there was an issue in the classroom, Karutis would help that student move to another section of that class without the punishment of a withdrawal.
The reason behind Title IX is to “ensure safety” says Karutis, and she feels FM does a good job of educating their students to feel comfortable if they see something to say something.
FM sophomore Ejerlin Reinoso agrees with Karutis. She says that Title IX is even enforced among the staff and at the resident’s halls. She says she feels comfortable on campus because “RA’s and staff are trained to identify such events.”
Karutis also wants students to know that there is no bias involved in their case. Once it goes through her, she brings it to an outside investigation agency, so there is no room for favoritism. As far as the assailant goes, once Karutis is informed of their behavior they are confronted, and most of the time, once they know they stop.
Karutis says annually she only receives about 12 cases involving sexual assault or sexual harassment, and each time the situation is solved with the help of Title IX.
Jane Kelley, the Vice President of student affairs at the campus says that Title IX does not only apply to the students but to the faculty as well.
If a faculty member felt that they were in a position of being sexually harassed or assaulted they would go about it the same way a student does. They are protected by title IX just like their students.
Jane Kelley says that she and Karutis are a team, and that when it comes to the head of a case Jane Kelley handles the paperwork, and Jean Karutis handles the conduct.
Kelly says that they, “work together on Title IX issues, and try to find a resolution.” Kelley’s main point involving Title IX is, “the worst thing that someone can do is not say something,” then Title IX cannot do their part in helping them.
The two are confident that students on campus are aware of their options and that title IX is seriously enforced.
FM freshmen, Willow Carey says, “It allows for girls and boys to both play on their teams without issues,” and Willow is correct. Title IX also makes sure that gender equality is enforced on our sports teams.
Athletic Director Kevin Jones, says that it is about more than gender equality. Jones says it goes as far as expenses. For example, if the boy’s basketball team had X amount of money spent on them, then the women’s team would get equal the money spent on them.
Title IX even extends to the facilities teams use, and making sure they are equal between teams. This has benefited FM athletics. This past year the girl’s softball team was given a new field, because the men’s field had been re-done. Now both teams have equal playing fields, and are in compliance with Title IX.
FM has six women’s teams, and six men’s teams. Since they are equal between men and women, FM is in compliance with Title IX. Jones says that he is always, “looking at balancing everything that we’re doing here.”
As far as FM athletics, they have never been out of compliance with Title IX, and they have never had any incidents to date. FM in athletics and as an institution guarantees safety for all student and staff on the campus. Title IX is just another way to make sure safety and equality are two words FM does not leave behind.