WU, Title Mine plan changes to Title IX website

| Senior News Editor

Washington University administration and student group Title Mine held a listening session for the redesign of the Title IX website Oct. 18.

The listening session was a part of a larger Title IX reform effort to create implementation groups, which are individualized committees working on different aspects of Title IX reform.

These implementation groups include an advisory committee, a peer consultant program, support for graduate student Title IX needs, Title IX process improvement, training and education and Title IX website “rearchitecture.” Some groups were originally outlined as part of the University’s report released in August 2018, while others like the graduate student focus group were created after receiving graduate student input from a recent listening session on the report.

Demonstrators gather outside the DUC last April for the Title Mine rally, which was attended by more than 500 people and made demands for change in the University’s Title IX system.Zachary Berman | Student Life

Demonstrators gather outside the DUC last April for the Title Mine rally, which was attended by more than 500 people and made demands for change in the University’s Title IX system.

While most of the implementation groups are still being structured and recruited, the website redesign committee is active. The session was a space for Title Mine and other students to raise concerns and make suggestions to Assistant Dean and Lecturer in Psychology Tim Bono and Assistant Vice Chancellor for Digital Strategy Chris Amelung.

According to Title Mine student organizer and junior Luka Cai, students have raised concerns regarding the online experience. They said that the Title IX website is difficult to navigate and that survivors often have trouble finding the information they need. Cai also argued that the language used on the website is not trauma-informed.

“[This committee] is going to work with administrators who are re-coding the website to figure out how they can redesign the website to make it more trauma-friendly, more accessible and more sensitive to students’ needs,” Cai said.

Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Lori White acknowledged Title Mine’s concerns and noted the importance of student involvement in recreating the website.

“I think that student feedback is really important to the Title IX website re-design,” White wrote in an email to Student Life. “It is important to make sure the website has the information students are looking for and that the information is easy to access for everyone who might go to the website, whether that is students who are just learning about Title IX and want to know more about how the process works generally to students who may be considering going through the process.”

In the website session, students raised concerns about the organization of the website, Cai said can be “overwhelming” and difficult to use.

“The listening session showed us that our strategic working groups are going to have an important role in the continued relationship between Title Mine’s goals and the policy implementation in the administration,” Title Mine organizer junior Daria Locher wrote in an email to Student Life.

The listening session is the first step that an implementation group has taken towards progress. Cai noted that the administration doesn’t have a strict timeline for the rest of the groups, which is why they believe meeting with the administration regularly is essential to keep the University accountable.

“They don’t seem to have concrete deadlines for a lot of the action steps…which is why I think regularly meeting with the administration is so important,” Cai said. “I think the committees will be a way that we can increase transparency and accountability because then students working within each implementation group…will be able to keep track of what the administrative colleagues they’re working with are doing.”

Looking ahead, Title Mine will continue to work within the committees and as a separate body. While Title Mine has 18 core members working on these various committees, Cai indicated the problems of hearing input from the same group of people.

“I feel like student attention on Title Mine has faded in some ways since the rally, which I think is very normal for any activist movement, but I think that’s to the detriment of our group because the priorities that we bring up in each meeting are shaped by the people who are in the room,” Cai said. “The longer the same group of people keep thinking about the same things, the less we’ll be able to relate to what priorities people outside the room might want out of this movement.”

Locher agreed, citing recruitment as a goal of the organization.

“I think the most important thing for us right now is to recruit more people to join our mission, because we’re in a state of transition right now, between a group of people who threw together a rally to the same people trying to organize a sustainable and permanent role on Wash. U.’s campus,” she wrote.

Cai emphasized that Title Mine’s current goals are to get the implementation groups to begin effecting change and to make sure that the change is representative of all needs of the student body.

“Having these committees up and running effectively [is our priority] because I think they’re the most direct way that students can give input into the Title IX changes,” Cai said. “The second priority is that no student is falling through the cracks in terms of what the committees are not covering. And I think that involves reaching out and getting student input and student involvement from people who are not in these committees.”

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