Sallyportal: Madly Blogging Reed


"Title IX"

Pantheon to be robed, say organizers

Reed students dress as Greek gods outside humanities lecture in 2012. Nudity at a similar event in 2013 prompted a Title IX investigation. Copyright Reed College.

The students who play the part of Greek gods and greet freshmen on their way to the first humanities lecture—collectively known as the Pantheon—will keep their robes on next fall, organizers declared at a community forum held by the Honor Council last week.

“No one will be naked next year,” said environmental studies major Elaine Andersen ’16, one of the HumPlayers, the student group that puts on the Pantheon.

The event, which has been staged for the last five years, typically involves male and female sophomores and upperclassmen who dress up as Greek divinities on the steps of Vollum Lecture Hall and welcome freshmen to their first Hum 110 lecture. The gods ask for libations, and freshmen respond (if they’ve done their homework) by spilling a few drops of coffee or water on the ground, re-enacting an ancient Homeric tradition. “It’s supposed to be fun and silly,” one student explained.

So, What is Title IX, Anyway?

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (which amends the Civil Rights Act of 1964) protects people in education programs or activities that receive Federal financial assistance from discrimination based on sex. Title IX states that, “No person shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.”

The spirit of Title IX is to ensure gender equity and equal opportunity for all students, and as such Reed is committed to honoring its obligations under Title IX.

“The law comes from a spirit of fairness,” said Michelle Valintis, Reed director of human resources. “It exists to guide colleges to become more open, safe, and inclusive places to learn.”

Though much of the early press around Title IX was centered on balancing athletic opportunities and scholarships, it was intended to be more far reaching. In 2011 Vice President Biden sent a “Dear Colleague” letter to all educational institutions receiving federal financial aid that explained the expanded interpretation of Title IX enforcement to cover issues of sexual harassment and assault. The letter instructed colleges to do what is necessary in order to ensure a safe and supportive environment for every student.  Additionally, colleges were instructed to

•    disseminate a notice of nondiscrimination to students, parents, and employees;     
•    designate a Title IX coordinator—at Reed it is Ed McFarlane, vice president/treasurer;   
•    adopt and publish grievance procedures providing for prompt and equitable resolution of student and employee sex discrimination complaints.

“The national statistics describing how few survivors of sexual harassment and assault report to authorities are truly discouraging,” said Mike Brody vice president and dean of students. “I believe that it’s incumbent upon college leaders—students, faculty, and staff—to help create an environment in which people feel safe to report, and can be confident that the college will respond in a meaningful and effective way. It is of course our ultimate goal to eliminate sexual assault and harassment though our education and preventions efforts, but in the meantime, Reed remains committed to removing obstacles that might prevent people from reporting.”

Title IX complaints can be filed with Department of Justice Office of Civil Rights, or with the institution where the alleged offence took place. It is the institution’s obligation to swiftly respond to any Title IX complaint by conducting an investigation and taking appropriate remedial action. If an offense is found, either the institution’s administration can take action to remediate the situation, or it can refer the case to the appropriate internal adjudicating body. If the latter option is taken, the Title IX coordinator oversees the process to ensure compliance.