Federal Investigation of Title IX office could bring pros and cons

Reading Time: 2 minutes

UVU became the subject of a Title IX investigation in August 2017, after the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) filed a complaint against the university for the ways the Title IX office has handled sexual assault reports.

In an emailed statement to the UVU Review, Layton Shumway, representative of the school, said, “UVU is committed to genuine inclusion and providing a safe environment for all. The university takes these matters very seriously and is proactively pursuing the appropriate actions as prescribed by current policies and best practices.”

According to UVU’s sexual misconduct page, “UVU’s sexual harassment and sexual misconduct policies help to facilitate an academic environment that is free of sexual violence and harassment,” in compliance to Title IX. Not much has been said about the Title IX investigation on campus, even though the university is the fifth college in the state to be investigated.

Powell Dubois, a senior studying aviation science said he thought the credibility of the university could be at stake as the investigation goes on because “it shows [the offices] as questionable.” He said he thinks some students would be swayed not to go as some might worry the office would not be able to help in the way the student needs.

So what does the OCR complaint as well as the investigation mean for UVU’s reputation? Maybe nothing major, as sexual assault often seems to be pushed under the rug in Utah. It does, however, emphasize the need for the campus and for Utah to have a better procedure for handling sexual assault reports and cases.

The investigation might lead to some immediate improvements in the way sexual assault cases are handled on campus. But on the other hand, it might keep victims of sexual assault from reporting to the school due to the negative stigma and exposure such investigations might bring.

But while the credibility of the office might be damaged, the knowledge of the importance of reporting a crime will hopefully help survivors come forward instead of suffering in silence. Ultimately, students will not neglect the services the university offers completely.

Although there may not be much that changes in the near future, the Title IX investigation will hopefully open the eyes of those who have the power to make a difference on campus and encourage them to follow through with initiating the change.