Title IX conference addresses sexual assault on campus

Kylie Elwell

Grand Valley State University hosted a two-day regional Title IX conference at the DeVos Center on Pew campus. Title IX’s main purpose is prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex in an educational setting. 

A pre-conference that was open to the public commenced April 30 and was free of charge before the official two-day regional conference May 1 and 2. There were many workshops and discussions at the event that focused on policies, investigation, case preparation and more. 

Title IX Coordinator Theresa Rowland said that “it’s an important conference,” especially regarding the recent #MeToo movement that has been happening over the past few years. Title IX is an important topic across the country, especially on college campuses. 

Lilia Cortina, professor of psychology, women’s studies and management and organizations at the University of Michigan, was the speaker at the pre-conference. Cortina did a presentation discussing her research, sexual harassment and the #MeToo movement. 

The presentation titled “#MeToo: From a Moment to a Movement,” discussed how the term “sexual harassment” can be misleading, since the harassment typically deals with gender and not sexuality as most would assume. 

Cortina has published over 50 papers in academic journals, along with serving as an expert eyewitness in sexual harassment cases, making her an important guest speaker to have at this event. 

“It’s important because we need to eliminate all forms of harassment,” said Rowland when asked why GVSU holding this conference was important not only to the staff, but to students as well. 

In order to begin to eliminate harassment, many steps need to be taken by all individuals, which may start with students. When student employees get the Title IX paperwork emailed to them, they should fill it out and read it because those small steps lead to bigger strides in ending harassment. 

“We need to eliminate all forms of harassment and to do that, we need to examine actions, practices and policies that uphold social systems and perpetuate it,” Rowland said. 

More information about the Title IX Education Amendment can be found on GVSU’s website.