How Does Title IX Truly Work?

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Title IX office for student’s aid.

The University of Northern Colorado’s Office of Institutional Equity and Compliance, or OIEC, has undergone significant staffing changes since the beginning of the spring semester. The coordinator of the Title IX program, who had started in that role in the fall of 2023, left the position. This leaves three employees in the OIEC to manage complaints and investigations that fall under the Title IX statute.

There’s no definitive way to say if three employees is enough to effectively undertake the Title IX process at UNC. There’s no rule of thumb when it comes to how many employees should be in a Title IX office. But it is possible to look at the employee to student ratio in relation to other Colorado colleges and universities.

For example, the University of Colorado Boulder’s OIEC has 24 employees. Of course, this is partly to compensate for a much larger student body of 37,153 from fall 2023. When you do the math, there is a ratio of 1,548 students for every one OIEC employee at CU Boulder. Compare this to UNC’s three OIEC employees and 9,067 students from fall 2023, this comes out to 3,022 students for every one OIEC employee at UNC. This means that OIEC employees at UNC are likely handling double the amount of cases when compared to other schools in Colorado. 

Deanna Herbert, director of news and public relations at UNC, said in January that the OIEC is actively hiring new candidates. 

“The position of Title IX Coordinator and Equity Officer has only been held by two people since OIEC was created back in 2016,” Herbert said. “When the individual who most recently held that position left earlier this month, that dropped our staff numbers down to three. However, we are in the middle of the hiring process for two positions that we expect will be filled over the next several weeks, putting us back to a staff of five. In other words, by the end of February, OIEC will be staffed at the highest levels the office has had since it was formed.” 

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As of Feb. 28, 2024, only the same three returning employees are listed on the OIEC’s website. 

Due to the sensitive nature of the office, it’s difficult to know exactly what the Title IX process looks like. A UNC student was willing to share her view on the process under the condition that she remain anonymous, so she’ll be referred to as L. 

L explained that when she was sexually assaulted, she considered reporting to the Title IX office, but ultimately decided not to. She said this was based on several factors, but the main reason being about what she learned from others’ experiences with the process. 

“I know some people who pursued the process and actually did get people removed from campus,” L said. “So, I do know that Title IX functions, at a bare minimum, but their cases went on for over two years.” 

L’s decision to not report to the Title IX office was based on other’s experiences, and it is indicative of a larger problem at UNC, which is that many students don’t trust the efficiency of the Title IX process. 

“Things move slowly, and I’m close to graduating,” L said. “One or both people involved will have graduated by the time it’s resolved. I knew it would take a while, possibly longer than I have at this school. There’s a perception that there’s a huge backlog. I don’t know if that’s really the case, but that is the perception.”

According to Herbert, a fully staffed OIEC office at UNC would include a Title IX coordinator and equity officer, three investigators and one case manager. With the office still currently hiring, filling these positions may help to improve student attitudes towards the OIEC.

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