After conducting research and viewing other university policies, Texas A&M University-Kingsville administrators have outlined a Title IX policy that more specifically addresses sexual misconduct.
The new policy, which is currently up at the A&M system for review, would supplement the current 08.01.01 K1 policy that the university follows, said Amy O’Neill, Title IX coordinator of TAMUK.
Once that happens, the university can take steps to change the TAMUK Title IX website page.
“I do hope by the end of semester (the website’s Title IX page) will be a comprehensive Title IX page that not only deals with understanding sexual misconduct policy, but also the rights of pregnant parenting students, as well as having links regarding (the Office of Civil Rights) information and links regarding local resources,” O’Neill said.
The announcement of a policy first appeared in a letter to the editor in the South Texan, written on the behalf of President Steven Tallant. This letter was a response to a previous letter, written by concerned students, who made “several highly charged allegations,” according to Tallant’s letter.
Tallant’s letter also stated the university was looking into hiring two more professional counselors at the Health and Wellness Center.
Angel Hoodye, TAMUK’s present professional counselor, has been with the university for five years and is trained for crisis intervention, which encompasses mental counseling for students, said Jo Elda Castillo-Alaniz, Director of the Student Health and Wellness Center.
“The two individuals that we are pursing are going to have their license. They will be able to meet the student’s health and wellness needs. Of course, when we are looking for these people, we want to make sure they are the best fit for our university,” Castillo-Alaniz said.
Students, faculty and staff will also be able to turn to the five newly appointed Title IX deputy coordinators: Kirsten Compary, dean of students, Gina Smith, director of residence life, Marques Dantzler, assistant athletic director, Susan Roberson, assistant dean for the College of Arts and Sciences, and Leon Bazar, executive director of human resources.
“We looked particularly at who had a lot of contact with students…we then knew through our policy that we needed to have someone from academics and the staff ranks because Title IX doesn’t just affect students, it affects faculty and staff as well,” Compary said.
Students and staff don’t have to go to the coordinator in their area, however. They can go to any of them, Compary said.
The coordinators have also had training to be able to handle their new responsibilities, and more trainings are planned for students, faculty and staff.
By looking at bystander intervention and how to avoid being a victim, students can also learn not to be a perpetrator or offender. PEP Talk has been instrumental in helping educate students, Compary said.
In addition to PEP Talk, the “Know Your Nine” posters around campus have been helpful in generating feedback, Compary said.
“You look for information on a website if you have a need to look up the information. Stuff like (the poster) raises awareness, and when you see these, you think, ‘Oh, there is a resource out there.’ While the website is an important resource, it’s not the only way we should be getting information out there,” Compary said.
“The slightest little message helps remind people…they just probably haven’t put it together yet, thinking, ‘Is this Title IX?’ There are just so many factors of it,” Castillo-Alaniz said.