Title IX FAQs

Resources and Support

Confidential advocates are available to all students and employees at no cost. A confidential advocate is a good place to start, and they can keep your information confidential while you explore your options. Other resources are also available. 

Western's Title IX Coordinator assists any member of the University community with concerns or inquiries regarding sexual misconduct or gender discrimination, and the formal complaint process. You do not need to make a formal complaint to receive supportive measures, which can include things like getting an extension on an assignment or adjusting work schedules if needed.

The CRTC and Prevention and Wellness Services provide detailed information on resources and advocacy at Western, resources in Whatcom county, as well regional resources.

National organizations such as RAINN and the National Domestic Violence Hotline also provide an incredible amount of information as well as 24 hour crisis hotlines. 

Individuals involved in a discrimination or harassment complaint have a right to supportive resources, including help understanding and navigating the process. The CRTC serves students, employees, and others in the campus community involved in harassment and discrimination grievance proceedings.

For Student Respondents
  • Counseling Center:  The Counseling Center provides confidential counseling, including crisis appointments and after-hours emergency services. The Counseling Center also assists students by referring them to other services on campus and to community resources that can offer more specialized or longer-term help with problems and concerns.
  • Student Health Center:  The Student Health Center provides confidential health care, including treatment for injuries and sexually transmitted infections, and emergency contraceptive services.
  • Office of Student Life: The Office of Student Life provides resources and information to students to help navigate the investigation and adjudication process. Contact the Office of Student Life at (360) 650-3706 or student.life@wwu.edu with specific questions.
For Employee Respondents
  • Employee Assistance Program: (877) 313-4455 (appointment scheduling); (866) 704-6364 (after-hours help line). The EAP provides confidential help to public employees regarding personal and work-related problems. Consultations are available at no cost to covered employees and adult members of their households.

Reporting Options

Any person may report sexual harassment, including sexual assault, whether or not the reporting party is the person alleged to be the victim of conduct that could constitute a violation of Western policy. The report can be made at any time, including during non-business hours, to WWU’s Title IX Coordinator, who also serves as the Executive Director of the Office of Civil Rights and Title IX Compliance.  

Filing a formal complaint is a separate process from reporting. Reporting misconduct to the Title IX Coordinator is always sufficient to put the University on notice. When a report is made, the Title IX Coordinator will reach out to the complainant to discuss options, confidentiality and available resources and support. 

The Title IX resolution processes are initiated when the Title IX Coordinator’s Office receives a written complaint alleging that a Respondent(s) sexually harassed a complainant and requesting that the University initiate an investigation (a Formal Complaint). A Formal Complaint must be either submitted by the Complainant or signed by the Title IX Coordinator on behalf of the Complainant. Formal complaints submitted to the Title IX Coordinator may be resolved through either informal or formal resolution processes. The University will not proceed with either resolution process without a Formal Complaint.

Upon receiving a Formal Complaint and determining that allegations qualify as Title IX claims, Title IX Coordinator/Title IX investigator will provide the parties with the following notices containing the following information: 

  • Notice of formal and informal resolution processes and a description of the relevant procedures
  • The investigator will serve the parties with a Notice of Investigation which will include:
    • Include the identities of the parties (if known), a description of the conduct alleged constituting Title IX Sexual Harassment, and the time and location of the incident (if known). 

    • Confirm that the Respondent is presumed not responsible for the alleged conduct and that the University will not make a final determination of responsibility until after the grievance and disciplinary processes have been completed. 

    • Inform parties that they are both entitled to have an advisor of their own choosing, who may be an attorney. 

    • Inform parties they have a right to review, inspect and comment on evidence directly related to the allegations at the conclusion of the investigation but prior to the drafting of a final report.  

    • Inform parties about student conduct code provisions and employment policies that prohibit students and employees from knowingly submitting false information during the grievance and disciplinary processes. 

Yes. Employees have a duty to promptly report to the Title IX Coordinator any known or suspected incidents of sexual harassment, including sexual assault, with the exception of those employees statutorily excluded from this responsibility (confidential resources). Students and visitors are encouraged to report any known or suspected incidents of sexual harassment, including sexual misconduct.  

All parties involved in a Title IX grievance procedure have a right to an advisor of their choice, which may be but does not have to be an attorney. If a party does not choose an advisor, the university will assign an advisor at no cost to the party. Contact the CRTC and the Title IX Coordinator to learn how to obtain an advisor.

 

Title IX Coordinator

Melynda Huskey, PhD. 

Executive Director, Office of Civil Rights and Title IX Compliance 

Office of Civil Rights and Title IX Compliance 

Western Washington University 

Old Main 345; MS 9021 

516 High Street 

Bellingham, WA 98225 

(360) 650-3307 (voice) or 711 (Washington Relay) 

crtc@wwu.edu 

Title IX Regulations Addressing Sexual Harassment

Title IX is a federal statute that was passed by Congress in 1972. The statute prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in all educational programs and activities. Some key issue areas in which schools have Title IX obligations are:

  • recruitment, admissions, and counseling;
  • financial assistance;
  • athletics;
  • sex-based harassment;
  • treatment of pregnant and parenting students;
  • discipline;
  • single-sex education; and
  • employment.

While the Title IX statute and all ED guidance documents and regulations that are currently in effect cover many areas and forms of discrimination on the basis of sex, the phrase "Title IX" is often used as shorthand to describe the programs, policies and procedures that institutions put in place in order to ensure gender equity, and to prevent and respond to incidents of sexual harassment, sexual assault and sexual violence.

It's important to understand that the new Regulations only address the ways that schools respond to allegations of sexual harassment. All other Title IX obligations are still in place.

Yes! Title IX applies to all students, faculty, and employees of all genders. 

As a recipient of federal funds, Western must comply with the Title IX statute and any guidance published or regulations implemented by the Department of Education, which is the federal agency that enforces the law.

The new Regulations only address how schools must respond to allegations of sexual harassment, which includes quid pro quo harassment, hostile environment harassment, and sexual assault as it is defined in the Clery Act, and dating violence, domestic violence and stalking, as they are defined in the Violence Against Women Act.

The new Regulations also expressly prohibit retaliation which includes intimidation, threats, coercion, or discrimination against any individual for the purpose of interfering with any right or privilege secured by Title IX, or because the individual  has made a report or complaint, testified, assisted, or participated, or refused to participate in any manner in an investigation, proceeding, or hearing.

The new Regulations apply to conduct which takes place in the United States, and at locations, events, or circumstances over which the University exercised substantial control over both the respondent and the place where the conduct occurred. The new Regulations also apply to any building owned or controlled by a recognized student organization, so the regulations may also apply to conduct in fraternity or sorority houses.

If the criteria is not met for jurisdiction under the 2020 Title IX regulations, the University may still investigate if the conduct would violate other University policy.

The Department states, “the statutory and regulatory definitions of ‘program or activity’ encompass ‘all of the operations of' such recipients, and such ‘operations’ may certainly include computer and internet networks, digital platforms, and computer hardware or software owned or operated by, or used in the operations of, recipient.”  Regarding whether an institution can exercise “substantial control” over a student in the context of while the student is studying remotely, the Department said only that “a student using a personal device to perpetrate online sexual harassment during class time may constitute a circumstance over which the recipient exercises substantial control,” but did not further elaborate. Id. at 30202.

The new Regulations require that schools adopt specific investigative and grievance procedures which must be carried out when a formal complaint of sexual harassment is submitted to the school's Title IX Coordinator. These include:

  • Specific notification requirements
  • Jurisdiction requirements
  • Required training for all Title IX Administrators
  • Hearings and the opportunity for appeals
  • An opportunity for contemporaneous cross-examination by an advisor of choice

Please see refer to the University POL-U1600.04 for further details.

Western's policy POL-U1600.02, Ensuring Equal Opportunity and Prohibiting Discrimination and Retaliation prohibits discrimination and harassment broadly, and covers all legally protected classes, including:

  • Race
  • Color 
  • Creed and/or religion
  • National origin
  • Sex (including pregnancy and parenting status)
  • Disability
  • Age
  • Veteran status 
  • Sexual orientation
  • Gender identity and expression
  • Marital status
  • Genetic information

Sexual harassment or other sexual misconduct that is determined to be outside the jurisdiction promulgated by the new Regulations will be addressed under POL-U1600.02.

See the below info graph to compare the two non-discrimination policies.

Comparing Western's Non-discrimination Policies

 

 

POL-U1600.04 

POL-U1600.02 

Geographic Jurisdiction

This policy applies to conduct that took place in the United States at locations, events, or circumstances in which WWU exercised substantial control over both the Respondent and the context in which the alleged sexual harassment occurred. It also includes any building owned or controlled by a student organization officially recognized by WWU.  

This policy applies to all employees, students, agents, groups, individuals and organizations that use University facilities and persons who participate in University programs and activities. 

Sexual Misconduct Prohibited

Sexual harassment, sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, stalking & retaliation

Harassment & discrimination

Other Prohibited Conduct

Retaliation

Retaliation, inappropriate behavior

Protected Classes

Sex

Race, color, creed, religion, national origin, sex (including pregnancy and parenting status), disability, age, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, marital status, and genetic information

Grievance Procedure

Investigative Procedure PRO-1600.04A

  • Employee Procedure PRO-1600.04B
  • Revised Student Code

The appropriate procedure is determined by the status of the respondent.

Discrimination Complaint Procedure PRO-U1600.02A