UT announces findings of Title IX compliance commission
Posted June 19
Edward Burch — In an effort to improve Title IX compliance across statewide campuses, the University of Tennessee announced the reported findings of an independent commission. This comes nearly one year after the university settled a Title IX lawsuit.
The commission recommended that the university create a Title IX coordinator position system-wide.
Over a six month period, the commission reviewed documents, conducted interviews with administrators and staff and hosted a series of focus groups with students on UT's three campuses.
In its report, the commission said there's been a focus on increasing awareness and understanding about sexual misconduct policies and procedures geared towards preventing incidents from occurring.
The commission found that overall the Title IX programs and policies were being implemented. But, also found opportunities for improvement.
In July of 2016, the University of Tennessee paid $2.5 million to settle a lawsuit from eight young women who claim the school violated title nine laws and created a "hostile sexual environment" by showing indifference about assaults committed by athletes.
At the time, victim's advocates said schools needed better policies-across the board.
Jessica Labenberg with the Sexual Assault Center of Nashville said, "We would love to see a shift in policy and education on college campuses where we are teaching our entire student body, what consent is, what consent isn't and we are talking with our entire students body and our athletes about bystander intervention and what we can all do to be a part of the solution."
University president Joe DiPietro says administrators will meet with individual campuses, to discuss the findings of the commission.
The commission concluded, "That UT is dedicating resources and attention to ensuring campus environments free from discrimination and harassment based on sex, including sexual assault, intimate partner violence and stalking."
Members of the commission were not available for additional comment.
DiPietro released a statement, it says in part "The members were very conscientious in their approach and have given us a blueprint to continue improving our commitment to safe, caring and responsive campus environments consistent with our goal to always be a proactive leader in our response to Title IX issues, not just reactive."