This article is the second part of a three-part series about Title IX. The separate parts explain how Title IX legislation plays a part from the national stage all the way down to our Title IX office and resources on campus, to Florida Southern organizations and student perspectives.
The second part of this series is about how Florida Southern College’s administration has applied Title IX policies and the options students have at Florida Southern to report violations of Title IX.
[Click here to read Part 3: How two FSC students advocate for survivors.]
Part 2: A look at Florida Southern’s policy and resources
The creation of Just Ask at FSC was a result of the 2011 “Dear Colleague Letter.” In 2013, The Southern reported when the Just Ask Program was created at Florida Southern. At the time, Dr. Marcie Pospichal was the Associate Vice President for Student Support and served as the student support Title IX officer.
“In April of 2011, the education department issued a ‘Dear Colleague’ letter. This explained the things we needed to do for our students and employees for Title IX to be active at the institution,” Pospichal said in the 2013 article. “We [faculty] got excited when we saw the opportunity to apply the cornerstone values in a way that could impact our campus culture in positive ways.”
That was only eight years ago.
Amanda Blount joined the Florida Southern staff nearly 15 years ago as the Director of Greek Life, eventually transitioning to work with Title IX in the role of Director of Student Education and Compliance in 2014. She now serves as the Assistant Dean of Student Development for Accountability, Education, and Compliance.
“I was on the original committee under Dr. Marcie Pospichal’s leadership that created the name of Just Ask and Dr. Pospichal was my first supervisor in this role,” Blount said. “A few years after that, the Office of Accountability, Education, and Compliance was created and we now work in the areas of student accountability and Title IX.”
In 2018, Maggie Merryday joined as the Assistant Director of Accountability, Education, and Compliance at Florida Southern. She graduated with a Master of Education degree with a concentration in Student Personnel in Higher Education from the University of Florida.
“While studying at Florida, I was introduced to Title IX work as an intern with the University Police Department Office of Victim Services,” Merryday said. “In the summer of 2018, Amanda reached out and shared that she had a position open in her office and invited me to apply.”
Katherin Pawlak is FSC’s Title IX Compliance Officer and deals with employees of the College or third-party reports.
Florida Southern College’s Title IX Coordinator, Title IX Investigators, and Decision-Makers attended the Title IX & Beyond two-day virtual training program on August 6-7, 2020, which was hosted by Title IX Solutions, LLC.
All of their training certificates are linked on the Florida Southern website and can be found here.
Each year, incoming Florida Southern students are required to take AlcoholEdu and Sexual Assault Prevention courses hosted through EverFi. These courses are intended to educate incoming collegians to the topics of alcohol and sexual assault on college campuses.
FSC emphasizes the different on-campus resources for students who wish to talk about their experiences, both confidential and non-confidential. The Safety Office and the Student Health Center are listed as non-confidential resources.
The Counseling Center and Chaplain Tim Wright are listed as confidential resources, but it is also specified that these resources may have to report incidents to the Title IX Officer “depending on the severity of the report.”
On the Florida Southern College official website, there are two sexual assault reporting forms: an anonymous or a formal report. At the top of the anonymous reporting form, there is a highlighted box that states:
“Please note, as of August 2020, according to the Department of Education, the College is unable to investigate anonymous reports related to Title IX violations. Under the law of Title IX claims of gender based discrimination cannot be filed anonymously. To file a complaint of gender based discrimination including sexual discrimination or harassment, domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, sexual orientation, gender identity or other please utilize the formal complaint form.”
Blount and Merryday emphasised that even though they are unable to investigate some reports, they still review the submission and are able to offer suggestions to Campus Safety or other parts of campus that might have an imposed risk.
“The College made the decision to keep the anonymous reporting form as an outlet for students who may still want to share information with us, even if it cannot be investigated by the college under Title IX rules,” Blount and Merryday said. “The inability to fully investigate a report does not change the college’s desire to have knowledge about possible safety issues.”
The Just Ask office operates a Sexual Respect and Awareness Committee which meets a few times each semester to discuss outreach initiatives and programs. The Committee is composed of various staff, faculty and students who offer insightful ideas and help us in our goal to improve awareness by serving as guides to others who may have questions about reporting.
The Florida Southern College Policy on Sexual Misconduct & Sexual Harassment is available to read in full on the website.
“We enjoy collaborating with student organizations and student leaders to continue to educate and empower our campus community,” Blount and Merryday said.