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University of Maryland, College Park and UMBC: Title IX Issues

Recently, the University of Maryland, College Park and UMBC have been handling Title IX matters in a controversial manner. University of Maryland, College Park’s student government has proposed to implement a $34 fee on students in order to fund the Title IX Office where sexual misconduct is discussed.

Title IX is “a federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any program or activity that is federally funded.”

According to BuzzFeed News, the director of the Title IX office, Catherine Carroll, stated that she required more money to hire more staff “to keep up with a growing number of sexual misconduct reports [which she was not] getting from the university administration or the state.” Charging students is not something usually done; however, A.J. Pruitt, the Student Government Association’s vice president of student affairs and the sponsor of the measure, stated that there was no other way to provide adequate funding.

According to BuzzFeed, Sejal Singh from UMD, coordinator for the nonprofit group Know Your IX, stated, “It’s shocking to hear by the university’s own admission they may not be in compliance with Title IX and what is even more astonishing is the university has apparently chosen not to take action on that.”

As demonstrated by a University of Maryland, College Park survey, “13.8 percent of women on the campus are raped by the time they graduate,” which is a statistic similar to other universities as large as UMD with about 38,000 students. However, the Title IX office at UMD only received $725,000 in the 2016 fiscal year.

A.J. Pruitt discussed that the average time to investigate alleged sexual misconduct was 142 days, while federal guidelines call for 60 days. This is not the first time that an university has had issues with determining what exactly is considered sexual misconduct. According to WBAL, “There are 205 post-secondary institutions that have pending sexual violence investigations against them.” In Maryland itself, that includes Frostburg State, Johns Hopkins, Morgan State and Mount St. Mary’s.

In June 2016, Mount St. Mary’s University was under federal investigation for how they handled a sexual violence complaint. According to Frederick News Post, “Eight rapes were reported on the Mount St. Mary’s campus in 2014, according to most recently available federal data.”

UMBC is currently under federal investigation due to the school’s alleged mishandling of sexual assault cases. This federal investigation is a result of attorney Wendy Murphy, whose client was advised by a UMBC official “not to file a criminal complaint with the Baltimore County Police Department because the university’s standard of proof was lower than that of local law enforcement.”

Wendy Murphy’s client was a UMBC female student who was “drugged and violently brutalized” within the past year. According to Murphy and WBAL, the federal investigation against UMBC involves allegations that the university did not adhere “with Title IX or Title IV of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Both laws obligate schools to respond with ‘promptness and equity’ when addressing sex-based assaults and violence and to treat sex-based assaults exactly the same as race and ethnicity-based assaults because they are exactly the same – legally – on campus.”

Murphy told The Retriever that, “Our complaint identifies numerous aspects of UMBC’s separate policy relating to violence against women that are substandard, meaning they subject victims to second-class redress in campus hearings. All other students from all other protected classes, such as race and national origin, receive ‘gold standard’ hearings under civil rights laws.”