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Title IX is a federal law that prohibits sex and gender-based discrimination in curricular and extra-curricular activities in institutions. It applies to both males and females and although it is commonly thought to apply only to athletics, it affects all students, faculty, and staff. Sexual discrimination involves gender-based harassment, sexual misconduct, and sexual violence. Sexual harassment is a behavior that creates a hostile environment in which the victim may become unable to participate in and benefit from the school’s educational programs, and activities. Offensiveness does not constitute harassment but even a single severe encounter such as sexual assault is harassment. As an online student, this form of harassment can be through social media where another student or staff member shares messages or videos that are sexual, include derogatory statements or belittling comments. As a student on campus harassment can be in the form of sexual slurs and innuendos, demeaning terminology, teasing or jokes from another student or staff. A person in power can also harass their junior such as a teacher giving a student a passing grade in return for sexual favors, a coach playing an athlete more for sexual favors. It will mostly affect a student on campus as opposed to an online student. A student may also face harassment for their participation in an investigation into a harassment claim whether as a witness or the victim.
Title IX also covers nonconsensual sexual contact defined as any contact of a sexual nature by an object or a person on another without their express permission or by forcing them. As a campus student, this may take different forms such as taking a video or audio of a sexual encounter without consent, exposing genitals where one party did not agree to participate but is forced to do so, invasion of privacy where a person comes into your room for example without permission. An online student may face bullying that is so severe intended at intimidation, hurting and controlling them mentally. Stalking also affects an online student where the student is led to fear of bodily harm and experience emotional distress. To understand harassment force, incapacitation and consent are explained. Force is the use of threats, intimidation or coercion to have sexual contact with a person. Incapacitation is an altered state of mind where someone can’t make a rational decision resulting from mental disability, drugs, and alcohol when taken without knowledge or physical restraint. Consent is when a person gives express permission by word or action to another although consent on one activity is not automatic consent to another.
The student who has been a victim of sexual assault can contact the Title IX coordinator, the assistant deputy Title IX coordinator, public safety, any resident assistant or resident director, or any staff member. A student can also file an anonymous complaint online or seek confidential assistance from faculty, medical personnel, or counselors. The school takes measures to create a safe environment for all its students and prompt investigation is done on all reports filed on sexual harassment. After an assault, it is imperative to get to safety as soon as possible and call for support from security if another person is in immediate danger. Both an online and in campus student should gather any evidence they can such as photos, text messages, social media posts, voicemails, or emails. Where there was sexual assault, the victim should seek medical attention and a forensic exam can be conducted. As a bystander, a student can prevent sexual harassment by discussing with friends openly about it, intervening when they witness another in a situation such as being cornered, or coerced and reporting a danger where a person plans to target another and they have told you about it. It is also important to keep yourself safe by walking with friends, avoiding isolated areas, not leaving an open drink unattended and leaving a situation that makes you feel uncomfortable. It is also very crucial as a student both online and on-campus to be self-aware and not be the perpetrator of sexual harassment.
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