July 22, 2014
By Julie Montanaro
Florida State University will hire a full time Title IX director to address sexual assault on campus.
It comes in the wake of the Jameis Winston case and amid an investigation by the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights.
Florida State University has three people versed in Title IX now, but it's not their only responsibility.
Soon FSU will hire a full time Title IX director whose sole focus will be the university's handling of sexual discrimination and sexual violence complaints.
He or she "would report to the provost level. That person would end up coordinating a lot of our efforts," Interim FSU President Garnett Stokes said.
Word of the hire comes as the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights reviews FSU's handling of sexual assault allegations against star quarterback Jameis Winston and determines whether FSU provided a "prompt and equitable" investigation as required by Title IX.
"There is an ongoing OCR investigation that is really just getting started," Stokes said. "We don't want to wait for them to make recommendations to us. We want to be proactive and we went to be engaging in best practices."
"It was a good move. It was something that was overdue," Tallahassee attorney Rick Johnson said. He applauds the hiring of a Title IX director.
"You're going to have the goodwill of the Department of Education and you're going to be looking out for the best interest of the students at the same time," Johnson said. "It's really a win win. The loss is for that old system of we are going to protect our reputation by covering up."
He says universities are being forced to take Title IX more seriously because the federal government is now publicizing the names of universities that are being investigated and Congress is debating sizable fines for any violations.
Interim FSU President Garnett Stokes says they hope to hire the Title IX director before classes start in the fall or soon afterward. Stokes says FSU is also adding new training for incoming students and boosting their sexual violence prevention efforts.
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