Reporting Sexual Harassment and Assault Under Title IX

Reporting Sexual Harassment and Assault Under Title IX

Andrea Swiedom Staff Reporter

    Title IX is a federal law that protects individuals at federally-funded institutions like UMF from discrimination including sexual harassment and assault as these impede on a person’s participation in education. When students experience sexual harassment and/or assault on campus, they have the option of reporting their case to mandated reporters who include the majority of faculty, staff, certain students employees, volunteers and peer advocates.

    “The only people out of this list who are not mandated reporters are the mental health counselors in the Center for Student Development, the UMF Health Center Staff, and Athletic Trainers when they are working in their Athletic Training capacity,” said Hope Shore, Assistant Director of Student Life & Deputy Title IX Coordinator through an email interview.

    When a student reports an incident, the mandated reporter must then inform Shore of the incident.   

    “I will then reach out to the student to see if they would like to meet,” Shore said. “If the student is interested, I will provide them with information about resources, support, campus policies and procedures and available accommodations.”

    Students or anyone concerned with an incident may bypass a mandated reporter by filling out the Title IX Incident Reporting Form online located on MyCampus under the Campus Safety tab or through the UMF Title IX website. This online form allows individuals to file their incident anonymously.

Franklin Hall, Counseling is located on the second floor (Photo courtesy of Andrea Swiedom).

    Individuals can also report an incident directly to Shore, which is what a group of students did in Dec. 2018 after encountering several occurrences of sexual harassment from the same individual. 

    The group of students will remain anonymous for their protection as the Flyer staff is aware of their identities and is confident in the credibility of their stories. 

    The group created a form for everyone involved to fill out and turn into Shore that described their experiences with this individual. One of the students involved expected the incident to be filed under the group’s name. However, even if a case is recorded with a group, each person’s case is treated as an individual report.

    Although students have no obligation to go any further once an incident has been brought to Shore’s attention, one of the members of the group that reported the harassment decided to proceed with the Title IX process. “I can back out at any point, but since I knew others were moving forward, I was going to move forward,” they said. 

    After the group filed their statement, the student met with Shore one-on-one to continue with the process. “I got this big folder of information and she basically told me that she would make the decision on who she would kind of push my case to next and it ended up going to Christine Wilson,” said the student.

    They met with Wilson, the Vice President of Student Affairs, to provide yet another statement that would determine whether or not the case would receive a full investigation. “It felt very official, kind of intimidatingly official,” the student said. “I thought I was just meeting with Christine, but when I got there, there was another woman directly connected with Title IX who was just there for recording.”

    The student was allowed to bring a person along for support while giving their official statement. “They were not allowed to say anything, but they were allowed to just be there, which I thought was a really nice thing that you can do,” they said.

    The incident was warranted a full investigation at the end of January. They were anxious and afraid while awaiting a verdict as they still had to function in classes, school activities and live on campus around the accused individual.

    “I don’t want this to last the entire semester. I just wish they had given me a rough timeline.  It’s just, you’ll hear from us when you hear from us,” they said.

    Shore’s office also provides students with the option to file a No-Contact order, which prohibits the accused from interacting with the accuser until a verdict is reached. However, the No-Contact order has its limitations.

    The student described an interaction they had recently in the Student Center with the individual whom they filed the complaint against, while tabling for a club. “He decided to walk right up to the table to start talking to a person next to me. I asked Hope if this breaks the No-Contact order and she said no. I was having a panic attack and I wasn’t able to do anything about it,” they said.

        Whether or not students go through with the Title IX process, there are several support resources available on campus that Shore reviews with students during initial meetings. “[Shore] asked me if I knew what services are available. I kind of knew, but at the same time I didn’t,” the student said. “I still said that I knew because I didn’t want to be there, but at the same time, I know that the counselors in Franklin have a month-long waiting list.” 

     None of the counselors were available for an interview, but students can visit the counseling services website for more information or visit their office on the second floor of Franklin Hall, which is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The Counseling Center also provides emergency walk-in hours that students may take advantage of at any time.

Shawna Austin, SAPARS Associate Director (Photo Courtesy of Shawna Austin).

       There is also a confidential, free drop-in support service available in room 112 in the Student Center every Friday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. through Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Services (SAPARS). “This is a specific time where an advocate can be accessible to answer questions, be a listening ear, and/or work together with students to engage in awareness raising events and/or other projects,” said Associate Director of SAPARS Shawna Austin in an email interview.

    SAPARS isn’t affiliated with UMF, but offers an impressive amount of free and confidential support services, including a 24-hour helpline (1-800-871-7741) to assist anyone affected by sexual harassment and/or assault, support groups, and a Sexual Assault Response Team well-versed in legal procedures that will even accompany individuals to police stations.

CA’s Wanted: Applications Now Open for Spring 2020

CA’s Wanted: Applications Now Open for Spring 2020

Ripley Biggs Contributing Writer

    As applications for new Community Assistants (CA) open up for the spring semester, students should know there is more to the job than meets the eye. 

    “I would say that [students] should know that being a CA is a 24/7 job, even when we are not in the office we are technically ‘on duty,’” said Sierra Tarbox, Scott Hall CA and junior liberal studies major.

    Being “on duty” is the most visible part of being a CA. “Duty is when you sit in the office and take care of things like paperwork, hanging up posters, filling out things, and checking on residents,” said Tess Gioia, Stone Hall CA and sophomore with a currently undeclared major. 

   Other CA job responsibilities include making bulletin boards and door decs as well as going to meetings and ensuring a healthy, safe and thriving dorm environment. Additionally CA’s are the first ones to arrive in the fall and after breaks and the last ones to leave after checking everyone else out. 

    CA’s have to participate in training before each semester, both to refresh themselves and to meet and work with new staff. As they are also mandated reporters, CA’s engaged in more difficult training as well, preparing for instances, “like if a resident were to come to us saying that they’ve been sexually assaulted or how we would handle a mental health/suicidal ideation situation,” said Tarbox.

Cait Davidson and Sierra Tarbox (Photo courtesy of Sierra Tarbox)

    Training also includes guest speakers, such as staff from the Health Center, Public Safety or Sexual Assault Prevention & Response Services (SAPARS), according to Tarbox. “We also have presentations from our Area Coordinators and other residential life staff members and sometimes even other Community Assistants, we also do group activities,” she said. “They really try to change it up and keep us engaged with the stuff we’re doing, as everything we’re learning is incredibly pertinent to the job that we were hired to do.”

    To help build a community in their residence halls, CA’s put on a variety of programs. The programs must fall under one of five categories: community building, diversity and support, health and well-being, personal development and all areas. “We use these programs to educate residents, bring fun into the hall, and build a sense of community,” said Tarbox. 

    People who want to be a CA go into the job for many different reasons. Tarbox said, “I am a Community Assistant because I am the kind of person who takes joy from helping other people, and to have a job that allows me to act as a support system for people who need it. It is something I really value.”

    Being a CA comes with many challenges. “The biggest challenges of this job I would say are the time commitments,” Tarbox said, “and sometimes if you aren’t careful and practicing self-care you can burn out pretty easily.”

    But the job also comes with many rewards. “Actually being able to help someone when they need support is the best possible reward. Helping residents be happy and successful is an incredible feeling,” said Tarbox.

    “This job is important because we have to help maintain order and safety within the halls so that everyone can be their most successful and authentic selves during their time here,” Tarbox continued. “I would also mention that we are students and people too, we can get overwhelmed and tired just as easily as anyone else so please take it easy on us, we are just trying to keep you all safe, that’s our top priority.”

     For people who are interested in applying to be a CA, Erica Crawley, graduate student and Area Coordinator for Scott Hall, recommends, “evaluat[ing] if being a CA is really what you want to do, make sure you have the time, talk to a CA.” Crawley also asks students, “Do you have the ability to relate to people? If you can strike up a conversation with people you don’t know, that is huge.” 

    “If you are thinking about applying, my advice is to just go for it! This job isn’t meant for one specific kind of person. For example, I’m super introverted but I’m still able to do this job. We thrive most when there are many different kinds of people on staff,” said Tarbox. 

   “My advice is to be yourself. If you act any differently, you aren’t being true to who you are, which is a big part of the job. Just be yourself and relax,” said Gioia.

    According to the University of Maine at Farmington work-study job opportunities list, there are 37 CA positions on campus. Interested applicants must have a GPA of 2.5, but if someone who is interested has a lower GPA there can be a probationary period to allow the GPA to improve. The application process involved is somewhat different for spring versus fall semester. Both require a resume, cover letter, and recommendations from both current CA’s and staff or outside sources. Applicants will shadow a CA while on duty and write up a reflection on the experience. Lastly, there is an in-person interview.

    If any interested student would like to apply to become a CA, student life has started the process of hiring for next semester. Applications are being accepted until Nov. 8 at 4 p.m. More information about the application process and the application form can be found at