In the windy beginnings of Friday afternoon, UCLA students gathered at Kerckhoff Grand Salon to hear a panel on Title IX, given by survivor and activist Annie Clark, and according to her, your Title IX rights as a UCLA student are being violated.
While many people have heard of Title IX, specifically in reference to sports, its legal definition remains largely unknown. In its most fundamental level, Title IX states:
“No person in the United States 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 …”
Thus, in basic terms, a hostile environment that jeopardizes someone’s well-being and peace of mind, whether it be in an academic or professional setting, is illegal and must be mended.
The IX Network represents a “loose organization” that helps survivors of sexual assault file complaints against their educational institutions if their needs have not been met.
For example, if the institution refuses to cooperate with the psychological and physical needs of the victim, in terms of proper counselling, schedule changes, housing issues, etc. the victim can use the IX Network for support.
Clark started her activism after directly witnessing and being subjected to Title IX and basic human rights violations after the University of North Carolina mishandled her sexual assault complaint.
According to Clark, the administrator who heard her story simply said,
“Rape is a football game. It’s like looking back and thinking what you would do differently if you could go back.”
Shocked and provoked, Clark decided to set up a “blind-reporting system” where victims could report assaults anonymously and could get the support they needed without having to go through what she, herself, had. This started her tireless drive to create a safer environment and a more knowledgeable student body. With another student, Andrea Pino, they filed a federal lawsuit against UNC in violation of both their Title IX rights and the Clery Act.
Although some individuals were fired and policies have been implemented, Clark asserts that there should also be a cultural transformation regarding sexual assault and the “r” word.
“You can’t implement cultural legislation,” she states, “However, you can set-up age-appropriate education programs for middle-school and high-school students. College orientation should not be the first time you hear about sexual assault.”
Although Clark acknowledges, “It’s a process,” this does not negate the huge amount of work she’s done and the difference she’s made. The red-tape and hierarchical structure gets tiring, but “we just keep fighting,” she retorts. She also asserts that students can be the solution and can help make a difference by remaining knowledgeable about their rights and when those rights are being violated.
As she was stepping off the stage, she reminded the students, “You’re not alone; I believe you; it’s not your fault.”
Finally, when asked if she considers herself a feminist despite labels and types, she replied, “I do. Anybody who believes in equal rights regardless of gender is a feminist.”
Your Title IX Rights are Being Violated:
As Clark was being shown around the grassy and ethereal campus of UCLA, her tour-guide pointed out an area and said, “You don’t go there; that’s where people get raped.” While recounting this incident at the Panel, numerous students nodded their heads and murmured in consensus: they knew what and exactly where she was talking about. What’s more, Clark’s tour-guide had allegedly heard it from her orientation adviser.
This means that it’s a prominent issue and an understood one, and according to Clark this is a Title IX violation. An unsafe and hostile climate and an issue that needs to be addressed.
Your Rights and Resources:
Your institution should instill a Clery warning. Just as earthquake warnings take effect, a crime alert should be made when a sexual assault takes place and the perpetrator remains on the loose.
You have your own Survivor Bill of Rights (who knew!):
Equal procedure for both parties (you get your own witnesses, your own court date at your convenience, etc.).
You have to be informed of your right to notify law enforcement.
You have to be informed of counseling, academic, and residential accommodations.
These rights must be disclosed to you at the time of reporting the incident and you should not have trouble seeking information.
The Santa Monica Rape Treatment Center will provide any medical needs for absolutely free. They even offer taxi service if transportation is an issue, along with the UCPD.
UCLA Student Legal Services offer affordable legal counseling.