JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Arkansas State University representatives are seeing an increase in key reports that allow universities to investigate sexual assault allegations.
Title IX is a federal mandate that regulates any institution or program that receives federal funding from the government.
Affirmative Action Title Nine Coordinator at Arkansas State University, Chocoletta Simpson, said Title IX is a form of regulation that is in place at ASU.
"It tells you if there is a sexual assault," Simpson said. "Or anything of that nature, you not only have to report it, but investigate and report it and prevent its occurrence. So, there are a lot of proactive measures that it requires you to take. Title IX, to me, requires you to address things I think you should be addressing anyway."
Simpson said they've increased a lot of education and training sessions dealing with sexual assault.
"We have done more training," Simpson said. "We've done more awareness and programming on campus. So, an increase in reporting has been expected and we have seen an increase in reporting. A lot more from faculty and staff who are aware of the reporting responsibilities. But we have seen an increase. And I'm optimistic, so I like to think it is because we're getting our whole campus informed about the proper process and procedures that are in place in the system. Anything related to Title IX, Affirmative Action, for me."
Simpson said this work is important to her.
"I'm very passionate about this work," Simpson said. "We do a lot of training with our FYE, or First Year Experience studies. And that's for our incoming freshman and transfer students. Not only is there an online portion that I would send to them prior to even coming to campus, once they're here we do an in-person training. This is part of their FYE class, or course. So, you would have me come to your class and speak to the students and go over the sexual assault prevention education training. We also have faculty members who do the same. After the students have been trained in person, I will send out a part two of what's called a Haven Online Sexual Assault training survey. This is to gauge their knowledge after they've received all the material we've given them."
Simpson said they've trained and educated more than students.
"We've also done staff and faculty training," Simpson said. "We started that this summer. So, there was a whole week dedicated to our staff in their respective departments and places where they would come and receive training from legal counsel. We had multiple sessions each day. We documented the training. Which is a big deal because Title IX is always changing. So, there's always things you need to be up to date on. There's always new information you can learn. All of our faculty members are mandated reporters. Staff members, for the most part, are as well. Our policy reads anybody in a supervisory position in relation to a student. So, that's almost everybody on our campus."
Simpson said she wanted students to know they have a number of different options available to them.
"I would like students to know," Simpson said. "Not only can you report to me directly, but you can report to your faculty members. You can report to your staff members. You can go to who you trust. Then they will do what they're supposed to and get the process going. Not only myself, but upper administration are so serious about anything that happens on this campus related to Title IX. Everyone is aware that these are issues and we're not trying to hide them. We want to help. This is what I'm here for. This is my job. Not to mention that this is a federal mandate. But we have a passion as administrators to correct those things. I went to this school. This is my alma mater. So, I want to ensure that it's a safe campus for anyone else who has the privilege of coming here in the future. I would also like our students to know that if you don't want to participate in an investigation, that's okay. You don't have to. But the resources that my office can offer are unlimited. Counseling, community resources, anything. Class accommodations, room accommodations, there are so many things that are in that process that are given to you because of this type of incident or situation. And I don't have to have the whole story. You don't have to talk to investigators. You don't have to let us help in that way. But we still want to help."
Simpson said it's all about safety.
"It's all about the safety of the students," Simpson said. "It's all about the safety of this campus. When it happens in our house, then we have to address it. And we will."
Simpson said they've seen a 10% increase in the number of reports.
But she wanted to stress to students that this increase is not an increase in the number of incidents happening on campus.
It reflects an increase in awareness, in safety and what to do about it.
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