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Pitt-Greensburg’s Title IX Office Works to Protect Students

by Bailey Weber

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash.

Title IX, a federal civil rights law founded in 1972 regarding sexual harassment, has its own process at Pitt-Greensburg. In previous years, Mary Anne Koleny, Pitt-Greensburg’s Title IX Liaison, worked alone. But this year, she has help. 

“The process changed in Spring 2020. There used to be a single investigator,” Koleny said.

The Office of Civil Rights (OCR) handles all changes in process and policies. The OCR works through the Department of Education, according to Koleny. 

“The OCR looks to see if there is a consistent framework in the testimonies,” Koleny said. 

Campus Police reported that there have been two reported sexual assaults on campus this semester. Commander Andrew Redman, a member of the University of Pittsburgh Police Department, explained the protocol Campus Police goes through when a sexual assault case opens. 

“Upon fielding a call for a reported sexual assault, the University of Pittsburgh Police Department (UPPD) will have an officer meet with the reporting party and take the initial report where the basic facts of the incident are gathered. From here, the Officer will determine based on the incident location, whether or not the assault occurred within our jurisdiction,” Commander Redman said. 

If a student lives off campus, the UPPD would act as an assisting agency during the investigation.

“If the incident happened on campus in a Pitt owned or leased building (i.e. Westmoreland or College Hall), UPPD would be the lead agency. However, if the incident occurs off campus, the proper agency would be contacted and the UPPD would be an assisting agency,” Commander Redman said.

The Title IX Office has a different protocol when a student reports an assault. 

“The person driving the complaint decides whether or not to move forward with the process,” Koleny said. “I am here to give them the resources they need.”

According to Koleny, Title IX examines situations using “preponderance of evidence” as a standard. This means that they look at their case as if it were more likely to occur or not, and the burden of proof is met if the reporting student proves that there is a greater than 50% chance that the incident occurred.

Recently, there has been a national uptick in sexual assaults on college campuses, and many students have organized protests in response to their campus’s handling of Title IX incidents.

According to Koleny, this has not been an issue at Pitt-Greensburg.

“The amount of reports from 2019 and now are about the same. 2020 was an anomaly. There weren’t many people on campus… It’s a small campus, so it’s hard to give out numbers and where it occurred,” Koleny said. 

Commander Redman said that UPPD and Title IX want to keep students safe.

“By law, the UPPD is required to alert Title IX of any assault that occurs; however, that information remains confidential with them as well,” he said. “If an arrest is made, criminal complaints can be completed where the victim is listed as “Jane or John Doe” to protect the victim’s identity.”

The UPPD has taken extra measures this semester to ensure that those affected by sexual assault feel safe on campus. 

“We have gone through more training surrounding sexual assaults and the trauma experienced by victims. Our department also works with our community partner organizations and Title IX to learn how we can best serve victims of sexual abuse,” Commander Redman said.

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