About two dozen Wake Forest students are playing a pivotal role in the University’s implementation of new Title IX regulations that are mandated by the U.S. Department of Education and take effect Aug. 14.
Colleges and universities nationwide must comply with the new federal regulations, the first regulatory revisions in 45 years to Title IX, the federal gender-equity law. Among the most notable changes, institutions must now hold live hearings and allow cross-examination when deciding sexual-misconduct complaints.
However, Wake Forest’s Title IX 2020 Implementation Task Force has gone a step further by creating a Student Advisory Group to help spread the word about the upcoming policy changes, assist with gathering feedback from students and make recommendations to the Task Force based on their feedback.
“Title IX regulations have a significant impact on the lives of students,” Vice President for Campus Life Penny Rue said. “At Wake Forest, we have learned that students care deeply about preventing sexual assault and want a real voice in policy development. Though the summer is not an ideal time for student consultation, we have been gratified by their active engagement in the process.”
Stephanie Trilling, director of the Women’s Center, and Jessica Telligman, interim Title IX coordinator, convened the Student Advisory Group and work closely with them.
“We wanted to ensure we had representation from many different students across campus, with a particular focus on marginalized identities who may be impacted,” Trilling said. “Also, we wanted to educate students about the new regulations so they could give informed input.”
Senior and Student Government President Miles Palmore Middleton gave Trilling and Telligman a list of students from various campus groups who wanted to be involved. Middleton has worked with the Title IX Office since his first year at Wake Forest.
“I think students just want some reassurance that the guidelines will be supportive toward the community and their wellbeing,” Middleton said. “I think it’s great that Wake Forest is trying to be transparent with students and that the administration was thinking about students when assembling this advisory group. At the end of the day, we’re all here for a common goal…to improve our community for the future.”
Junior and Speaker of the House in Student Government Ally Swartzberg said she’s a justice seeker and pragmatic by nature.
“On the one hand, I wanted to be involved because I want to look out for the needs of survivors on campus, but I also wanted to be involved because I know Wake Forest, like other institutions, has only so much say in how the regulations are implemented.”
Rising sophomore Ethan Wearner said he hopes to provide student feedback to the administration in a meaningful and comprehensive manner “about the uniqueness of Wake students.” Wearner said ultimately he wants to help make Wake Forest a healthy environment for students.
The Student Advisory Group members have spread the word about the new regulations through various social media channels, including Facebook and Instagram. Their most significant contribution has been tallying results and determining themes from a student survey that included multiple-choice and open-ended questions and netted 231 responses.
Telligman said working directly with students is one of the most fulfilling parts of her job so it makes sense for her office to do that throughout the review and implementation of the new regulations. “Our new University policies are greatly enriched when we take into account our students’ experiences and knowledge about sexual misconduct and discrimination,” she said.
Added Trilling: “I think a lot of students right now are keenly aware of the need for equity and justice on campus, and this seemed to be a way they could participate in institutional change.”
To interview Middleton, Swartzberg, Wearner or Trilling, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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