Student Senate Hosts Title IX Training Amid Protests

Lianna Brown ’22, News Editor

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Student Senate preempted their usual meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 4 to host an open forum on Title IX. The open forum, which was on Teaching and Conversations, was attended by about 150 people, including students, administrators and professors. The open forum began with introductions from Student Senate and then attendees broke off into five breakout conversations. Topics for the five conversations were queer students, people of color, rape culture, toxic masculinity and solidarity.

Before the breakouts began, a YWCA representative, Gwen Stahlnecker, who visits campus once a week, spoke about her resources and what she does on campus. Stahlnecker is a sexual assault counselor for the community, but holds on-campus office hours for students and answers calls on the Dickinson College advocacy line. 

After the YWCA representative spoke, Student Senate President, Kevin Ssonko ’20 noted his disappointment in the lack of men, particularly male campus leaders who “demand respect from their peers” participating in the sit-in and attending the open forum. “We are sacrificing so little to do this [sit-in], many times when people sit-in, they face physical harm […] we are faced with none of that, in fact, the college is encouraging this. If people can’t participate when it’s easy, what are they going to do when it isn’t,” Ssonko said. 

The breakouts allowed for facilitators to ask attendees in the breakout to ask and answer questions on the specific topic dedicated to that group. Attendees were asked to visit two different topics for 25 minutes each. 

After the breakout conversations, three Title IX peer educators gave a presentation on sexual violence and Title IX. Students Areya Campbell-Rosen ’22, Nhi Ly ’22 and Gita Elangbam ’21 explained that they work under Title IX Coordinator Kat Matic and they work as a student to student resource. They explained that if students are uncomfortable going to Matic, an administrator or faculty member, they are there to help. 

During their presentation, the peer educators explained that Title IX is a federal law that explains that there can be no discrimination based upon sex in any educational program or activity. Title IX covers all campus members, educational programs and activities and protects any people on a college campus. 

Next, the peer educators explained the definition of sexual harassment and explained the different areas of sexual misconduct. The areas of sexual misconduct mentioned were sexual harassment, gender-based harassment, unwanted touching, intimate partner abuse, sexual assault, sexual exploitation, stalking and retaliation. While Title IX covers all of these areas, students raised concerns about rape not being its own category. The peer educators explained that it was decided by the Dickinson College Title IX office that rape falls under sexual assault. 

The educators went on to explain what consent is, and how you should always know when you have consent. 

The peer educators then explained how reports go through the Title IX office and what happens when one files a complaint. They explained that there are three options when one submits a complaint, and walked the audience through the measures taken in each option. The three options are: no further action, an informal resolution or a formal resolution.

After their presentation, the peer educators answered questions from attendees. Students in attendance mostly raised concerns about the educational sessions and materials offered by the Title IX office. Many students made the point that they do not remember the information learned about Title IX at their first-year orientation and then offered solutions to be educated once a year or even once a semester on Title IX policies. 

The Title IX Teaching and Conversation Senate Meeting took place on Tuesday, Feb. 4 at 6:30 p.m. in the social hall.