The Higher Ed Workplace Blog

3 Tips for Training Employees on Title IX

The challenges associated with Title IX in higher education are complex, and sexual assault on campus and institutional responses continue to make headlines across the nation. According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, over the past six years the government has conducted 399 investigations of colleges and universities for possibly mishandling reports of sexual violence. So far, only 62 of those cases have been resolved.

Most Title IX experts agree that training and communication are key to not only helping prevent sexual violence on campus, but also to helping an institution appropriately respond to a complaint of sexual assault and/or to maneuver through a Title IX investigation.

To learn more about effective training practices, we spoke with Mary Anne Koleny, HR director and Title IX liaison for the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg, who as part of her recent master’s work studied Title IX training for higher ed employees. Here, she offers three tips on how to provide comprehensive training and resources for Title IX reporting on your campus.

1) Make sure “responsible employees” know that they are deemed as such and understand their responsibilities. As defined by the Title IX statute, a “responsible employee” is any employee who (a) has the authority to take action to redress sexual harassment/misconduct; (b) has been given the duty of reporting incidents of sexual harassment/misconduct or any other misconduct by students to the Title IX coordinator or other appropriate designee; and/or (c) a student reasonably believes has this authority or duty.

“Many employees simply don’t know that they are responsible for reporting sexual misconduct,” says Koleny. “Therefore, institutions need to be deliberate in their training and communication, particularly with faculty, as they have the most interaction with students, and students are the primary victims of sexual assault and sexual misconduct on campus.”

2) Focus on the “what to do,” not just on the “what it is.” According to Koleny, many Title IX training events focus only on the “what is Title IX” theme — that is, facts and figures and definitions. “Unfortunately, Title IX trainings are often missing the added tools — the what-to-do piece — for those responsible for reporting misconduct,” she says. “It’s not every day that employees encounter Title IX issues, so they are not necessarily well-versed in the reporting procedures.”

She suggests providing your institution’s “responsible employees” with talking points, a reporting process flow chart and/or other helpful information they can quickly and easily access in the event that they become aware of an alleged action that warrants reporting. It’s also important that staff and faculty understand the need to provide interim measures to victims of alleged sexual assault as a means of ensuring their safety. “Some employees may not be able to articulate the specifics of an interim measure or the ‘how-to’ in applying interim measures such as no-contact orders, residence hall bans, counseling resources or accommodations for classroom group projects,” says Koleny.

3) Practice ongoing communication, and make it easy for individuals to find information. All employees who are responsible for reporting alleged sexual misconduct or harassment should receive regular communications outlining updates and changes to Title IX policies and procedures. “A great way to provide information on an ongoing basis is to create a Sexual Harassment and Assault Response Education (SHARE) web page,” says Koleny. Such websites typically provide information about support services, reporting options, and quick links to education and training opportunities and advocacy services. (University of Pittsburgh has gone a step further and has a physical SHARE office.)

In short, says Koleny, institutions need to be proactive in evaluating their communication plans and related Title IX training to ensure that all employees are well-versed in their responsibilities. “A comprehensive Title IX training and communication program will help ensure that your institution’s ‘responsible employees’ are doing just that … being responsible.”

Related Resources:
Best Practices in Training and Compliance Around Title IX
Title IX Toolkit in CUPA-HR’s Knowledge Center
How to Conduct a Thorough Title IX Investigation
Traits and Training for Title IX Investigators
The Intersection of the Clery Act (VAWA) and Title IX: Implications for Sexual Misconduct Complaints and Institutional Response – CUPA-HR On-Demand Webinar
Delivering Engaging, Informative and Impactful Sexual Harassment Training – CUPA-HR On-Demand Webinar


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