Title IX is an extremely important concept, but it’s one that not many people may understand. If anyone were to ask college students in particular what Title IX was, they may not be aware. The assumption is usually that it relates to “sexual assault” or “women’s rights.”
Now while these are both technically correct, Title IX expands much further than just sexual assault and sexism into issues that students all over the country deal with. The type of issues that intersect with huge social movements such as #BlackLivesMatter, the #MeToo Movement, and the LGBTQ+ Movement.
Simeoli, an attorney by trade with a professional history in higher education and anti-discrimination law, joined the Springfield College family during Spring Break of 2018 and immediately started to take the campus by storm.
Simeoli is responsible for many Title IX sponsored events such as Denim Day and the “Strike Out Sexual Assault” game with the softball team.
Simeoli is one person on campus who can provide a clear definition of what exactly Title IX is.
“Title IX is the federal law that requires colleges and universities to have a policy in place to stop, prevent the recurrence of, and remedy discrimination in educational activities based on a person’s sex, gender, or sexual orientation,” she said.
Essentially, the law requires colleges to allow students to fully access their education by stopping and correcting discrimination at every turn.
So why isn’t it at the forefront of social justice issues on campuses today? This is highly due to misconceptions about what the law actually does and what it’s for.
“A lot of people think Title IX is only about sports. A lot of other people think it’s only about sexual assault. Some people think it’s only for women, and a lot of people think it’s only for students. Title IX rights apply to all members of the College community, students and employees, and applies to any bias or discriminatory behaviors,” Simeoli said.
So how does this work? In the case of a sexual assault for example, if one were to send a report to the Office that an incident has occurred, many would assume that they’d immediately have to testify in an investigation. That too would be a misconception.
”Working with our Office, we have the ability to provide what we call ‘interim remedies’ or ‘support services.’ These can be things like helping to change your housing, (reschedule) classes, or connect students to other appropriate services – all of which can be accessed without a student choosing to move to an investigation,” Simeoli said.
Simeoli also acknowledges that students can play a huge part in establishing a safe environment for everyone on campus.
“When students take ownership of Title IX initiatives and issues, like consent, it benefits our entire community. It’s one thing for me or another college administrator to tell students to practice and respect consent, it’s a vastly different thing for students to hear it from their peers,” Simeoli said.
“When our students establish a culture of consent, healthy habits, active intervention, and respect, we live our shared community values. Students can help establish a healthy Title IX culture by getting involved in our programming, speaking up, and remembering that we’re here for you if you need us,” she added.
The biggest message that Simeoli wants people to know is that there is always someone there to help.
“I want all students to know and remember that their Title IX rights follow them throughout their time as students. So, no matter where they go or who is involved in an incident of gender-based misconduct, we’re here to help you. Members of our team are always available to answer any questions you have,” Simeoli said.
The counseling center provides access to all the resources that the office of Title IX has to offer on-campus. They have also partnered with the YWCA of Western Massachusetts, who have a 24/7 confidential crisis hotline if help is needed immediately. For contact information or to learn more information, go to the website at Springfield.edu/TitleIX.