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Key points

  • Title IX is a civil rights law that prohibits gender-based discrimination in federally-funded universities.
  • You can contact a Title IX coordinator at any time, including if you or someone you know may have experienced sexual misconduct or harassment.
  • Title IX coordinators can connect students with additional resources, including disciplinary, legal, and medical support.

You may (or may not) remember hearing about the Title IX office during your freshman orientation. Either way, the Title IX coordinator is an important resource at your school and one you should be familiar with. Why? Because they are there to help and protect you from things like gender-based discrimination and sexual harassment and assault.

Title IX is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in educational institutions that get federal funding. In other words, if the government gives a school any money, the school must make sure that there’s no gender-based discrimination or harassment happening at their institution. Title IX applies to all students (undergraduate, graduate, and part-time), faculty, and visitors to campus, and protects people of all genders from discrimination and harassment.

Title IX prohibits any gender-based harassment or discrimination. It covers a wide range of issues, including:

  • Providing equal athletic opportunities for all students
  • Ensuring schools don’t discriminate against pregnant or parenting students
  • Stopping gender discrimination in admissions, hiring, and promotions
  • Preventing and responding to sexual misconduct (sexual harassment, intimate partner violence, sexual assault, and stalking)

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Why might students contact a Title IX coordinator

Anyone can contact a Title IX coordinator at any time. “Students reach out to me for a number of reasons: They may want advice on how to help a friend who has experienced sexual violence; they may want to gather additional information before deciding whether to file a complaint; or they may need assistance coordinating short-term accommodations as the result of an allegation,” says Janelle Ramsel, Title IX coordinator at Valparaiso University in Indiana.

For example, you can contact a Title IX coordinator if…

  • You have questions about your university’s policies or resources.
  • You think that you or someone you know might have experienced sexual misconduct or gender-based discrimination.
  • You want to get involved in making your college safe and supportive for everyone.
  • You want to connect yourself or someone you know to on-campus and local resources for sexual misconduct support.
  • You want to learn more about how to support a friend or acquaintance who has experienced sexual misconduct.
  • You’d like to access training for your student organization. “Students have contacted me for proactive training for student groups,” says Ramsel.
  • You have questions about other kinds of gender-based discrimination (such as hiring or admissions discrimination, athletic issues, discrimination against pregnant/parenting students, etc.).

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Who are Title IX coordinators?

The government requires all educational organizations covered by Title IX to designate a Title IX coordinator. It’s the Title IX coordinator’s job to be an expert on Title IX, and to coordinate the college’s efforts to prevent and respond to gender-based discrimination and sexual misconduct. “Ultimately, my role is to make every effort to keep our campuses free from sexual violence and discrimination and [make it known] that we welcome and support all students,” says Yolanda Dennis, Title IX coordinator at Massasoit Community College in Brockton, Massachusetts.

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How do Title IX coordinators prevent and respond to sexual misconduct?

Title IX coordinators ensure that colleges have policies prohibiting sexual misconduct in place.

“An important aspect of a Title IX coordinator’s role is to provide student training to help prevent sexual misconduct on our campuses,” says Dennis.

Title IX coordinators oversee disciplinary processes to respond to sexual misconduct and prevent it from happening again.

Title IX coordinators help to make accommodations to support students who have experienced sexual misconduct. “In addition to describing a student’s options under the Title IX process, I will also provide short-term accommodations to students [who are] in the process. [These accommodations depend] largely on the student’s self-assessment of what support they need to be successful. Some students want to know about confidential reporting options. Others are looking for assistance managing their classes or work schedules while they are going through the hearing process, and benefit from discreet communications to their supervisors or professors asking for flexibility. Other short-term accommodations I can provide include emergency housing, room change assignments, no-contact orders, facilitating legal referrals, visa assistance, or other reasonable requests from a student,” says Ramsel.

Title IX coordinators can connect students with other resources, including disciplinary, legal, and medical support. “I provide students with our Victim’s Rights and Information Advisory, which includes information concerning counseling, health, and mental health services, victim advocacy and support, and law enforcement assistance,” says Dennis.

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How else do Title IX coordinators support campus communities?

Title IX coordinators also look at the big picture of the campus to see if there are patterns in gender discrimination or sexual misconduct. Every college and university is different, but these efforts may include:

  • Collecting and analyzing data about sexual misconduct on campus
  • Meeting with student groups to discuss their specific experiences
  • Running an advisory board to learn students’ perspectives on Title IX 

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How can I find my Title IX coordinator?

Your school is required to give you notice of who your Title IX coordinator is (this information is often distributed during orientation). Often, the easiest way to find your Title IX coordinator is to search the internet for your college’s name + Title IX coordinator. 

If you are interested in getting involved in sexual misconduct prevention on campus, you can contact your Title IX coordinator to learn more. “I joined a Title IX advisory committee to help make my campus a safer place,” says Tom H.*, a third-year graduate student at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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Article sources

Yolanda Davis, Title IX coordinator, Massasoit Community College, Brockton, Massachusetts.

Janelle Ramsel, Title IX coordinator and assistant general counsel, Valparaiso University, Valparaiso, Indiana.

America’s Promise Alliance. (2019). Seven questions about Title IX, answered. Retrieved from https://www.americaspromise.org/news/seven-questions-about-title-ix-answered

Know Your IX. (2019). Title IX. Retrieved from https://www.knowyourix.org/college-resources/title-ix/

National Collegiate Athletic Association. (2019). Title IX frequently asked questions. Retrieved from http://www.ncaa.org/about/resources/inclusion/title-ix-frequently-asked-questions#apply

Palumbo, L. (2017, August 23). 10 facts everyone should know about Title IX. Retrieved from https://www.nsvrc.org/blogs/10-facts-everyone-should-know-about-title-ix

Pope, K. (n.d.). Title IX accommodations and interim measures. Retrieved from https://www.titleix.pitt.edu/sites/default/files/Understanding Title IX Accommodations and Interim Measures.pdf

United States Department of Education Office for Civil Rights. (2018, September 25). Sex discrimination policy guidance. Retrieved from https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/frontpage/faq/rr/policyguidance/sex.html

Wiersma-Mosley, J., & DiLoreto, J. (2018). The role of Title IX coordinators on college and university campuses. Behavioral Sciences, 8(4), 38.