Heidi Jaynes, a Title IX expert and Carleton College professor, will discuss the ways in which Tile IX has evolved on college campuses during the Owatonna chapter of the American Association of University Women’s “Herstory” program on Thursday at the Owatonna Arts Center.

“The topic is timely,” said Mary Kaye Tillmann, a member of the Owatonna chapter of the AAUW. Jaynes comes highly recommended by other AAUW chapters, and “she can answer any questions” about Title IX.

“I want to educate and help people understand” Title IX on college campuses, said Jaynes. “It’s a topic we have to talk more about so we have more understanding.”

Title IX, part of the Education Amendments Act of 1972, required that male and female students have equal access to admissions, resources, activities and financial aid, etc. The federal law states: “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance."

At Carleton, Jaynes oversees NCAA and MIAC compliance for 20 sports, as well as the Physical Education, Athletics, and Recreation (PEAR) Department’s gender equity, inclusion and Title IX plans. She also chaired the committee that hired Carleton’s first full-time Title IX coordinator — last month, Carleton also added the school’s first full-time sexual misconduct officer, as well — and helped implement the college’s campus-wide Green Dot bystander intervention training, which aims to eliminate sexual violence, assaults and stalking.

For most members of the public, Title IX is the legislation that led to a proliferation of athletic opportunities for women. And that was its legacy for decades. But in recent years, Title IX’s main impact on college campuses has been the way in which students who lodge sexual misconduct complaints are treated, Jaynes said. “We’re still mindful” of the athletic element, but “our colleges have done a great job of making sports more equitable.”

In 2011, the Department of Education promulgated a new set of guidelines for colleges and universities regarding sexual misconduct in order to “protect” the rights of all students “to have their education,” she said. “We don’t want anything to disrupt educational opportunities for our students, and sexual misconduct can definitely lead to barriers in education.”

In matters of sexual misconduct, Carleton's response is “centered on the complainant,” but, of course, the “responder” also has “rights,” she said. The college will conduct an investigation if a formal complaint is filed, and an advisory board will hear the complaint, although “we don’t have many of those happen.”

Indeed, complaints of the “worst-case scenario of sexual assault” are rare, at least at Carleton, she said. More common are charges of offenses like stalking, harassment, or “unwanted touching.”

Carleton has an online community conversation forum where “anyone” can report concerns, either with their name attached or anonymously, she said. Students can also raise worries “confidentially” to Carleton’s chaplain or counselors.

“Our process is set up so it’s all in the hands of” complainants in terms of how far they wish to take complaints, she said. The college will assist them to ensure no disruption of their education, which can include moving their residence, changing classes or no-contact orders.

Faculty and staff undergo training annually, and the college attempts to inform all students of their rights even before they step on campus, she said. “There’s an online training” prior to freshmen year, and additional instruction is part of the opening week orientation.

Even so, “one of the biggest challenges we have is trying to reach every single student,” she said. “It’s a work in progress.”

Green Dot has helped establish a new culture where students don’t “stand by and watch things happen,” she said. Ideally, students will remember those sessions “in situations where they don’t know what to do.”

Green Dot training is a six-hour session, so “it’s pretty intense,” but half of Carleton’s athletic programs elected to take the training as teams, she said.

The NCAA recently mandated all students athletes — at every level of competition nationwide — take sexual misconduct prevention education every year, and “that’s a great thing,” she said. While sexual misconduct is a problem with all college students — not merely athletes — there have been several high-profile instances of athlete sexual misconduct and athletes acting as catalysts for positive change can filter down throughout the student body.

“Athletic departments can play a big role in this,” because “the NCAA had places us in a position to be leaders in this arena,” she said. For too long, colleges had been “reactive,” but now “we’re more proactive.”

While conversations surrounding sexual misconduct can, of course, “be difficult at times,” they “help us to grow as people,” she said. For “our campus to have diversity of thought and background” is “a huge benefit,” because “that’s what the real world is like.”

Thursday’s event starts at 7 p.m., it’s open to the public. There is a $5 fee at the door, and net proceeds benefit the arts center.

Reach Reporter Ryan Anderson at 507-444-2376 or follow him on Twitter @randerson_ryan.

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