Student advisers received new training from Truman State University’s Institutional Compliance Office, which has also made changes to its internal procedures.
The updated training changes how SAs are involved in Title IX issues and gives them more extensive training.
“[The training and changes to procedures] were the result of me meeting with Residence Life leadership, the interim director as well as the hall directors,” said Lauri Millot, Institutional Compliance Office/Title IX Coordinator.
The streamlined process is more conducive to providing students the services they need, Millot said, and she hopes this will make the process more efficient.
Millot said she wants SAs who come onto a situation to do triage and assess the individual’s immediate needs. The new process has SAs involving the on-call Residence Life management personnel and then contacting Millot immediately.
“I am not waiting for paperwork,” Millot said. “I am dealing with humans when humans need to be dealt with.”
Millot said they changed the process so she gets involved earlier in the process. She now has the ability to react to the complainant’s, respondent’s and SA’s needs.
The new process also reduces the number of individuals with access to information about the situation, Millot said, and is more proactive in addressing situations.
Since arriving at Truman State University, Millot said she has been all around campus talking to people about discrimination.
“I needed to see what was happening here, I needed to hear what was happening here,” Millot said. “I went out and spoke to everyone that I could. I did my best to get out everywhere so I could see what was working really well on campus as it relates to discrimination, as well as what we can do better.”
Millot said in addition to responding to complaints, she has been doing NCAA training, working with the staff at the Student Recreation Center, creating files and working with SAs.
Millot said what is most important is that people understand what their rights are, whether that has to do with Title IX and sexual misconduct or with Title VII and discrimination in the workplace.
“In our partnership with Dr. Millot, we recognized the level of training and skills necessary to effectively respond would be best managed at a professional staff level,” said William Nelsen, interim residence life director. “Our Student Staff still play an essential role in the process, as they tend to be the first to receive an initial report.”
SAs received training focused on real-world examples of discrimination to better understand their role in such a situation, Nelsen said.
Missouri Senate Bill 259 has the potential to have a significant impact on Truman and the Title IX process, University President Sue Thomas said. She said the bill aims to make universities act more like courts with all due process rights.
“Essentially what this bill is sent out to do is set up an administrative hearing for anyone who has been named as a respondent in a Title IX complaint,” Thomas said. “If a student, or anybody, goes through the process and believes they were not given due process, then they go to this administrative commission. If the administrative commission finds the [respondent] was not given due process, the university will be fined $250,000 for any instance, and the Title IX coordinator … can be personally sued for both actual damages and punitive damages.”
Truman is subjected to federal compliance guidelines with its Title IX processes, and this bill would supersede all of that, Thomas said.
“All public institutions, both two years and four years, will be put in the very difficult position of deciding,” Thomas said. “If we go with what the federal government says, that would be in violation of this bill. If we decide … [that] we will go with what the state says in this bill, if it passes, the federal government could remove our Title IV funding.”
Thomas said the bill is moving a lot faster than expected and Truman is watching this bill closely.