Bella Mezzacapo reporter
A job posting was made on Jan. 19, 2022, to fill the position of Title IX Coordinator here at Pittsburg State University. Finally, in November of 2022, the position has been filled.
Jamie Thayer, former Title IX Investigator at the University of Arkansas and seven-year probation and parole officer, has come forward and taken on this role at PSU. Thayer has some personal experience with the policy herself and knows some things about its history.
“Title IX is a federal rule that every person, regardless of gender, should have equal access to education and activities, for many institutions that receive federal funding,” said Thayer. “So, before it started, I met a woman who played, college tennis. Before Title IX, they had to buy their own uniforms, buy their own balls. They went to, I’m not familiar with tennis terms, but they went to a nationwide college tennis tournament in Florida, and they camped while the football team got, you know, hotels and meals and all the fancy things. So, that’s how it came about. And then it has kind of evolved into sexual assault, domestic assault, stalking. It, proportionately, effects females who are subjected to that and it kind of makes their educational experience not as great. So, Title IX started investigating and doing, trying to do administrative actions for people who had committed assaults on campus.”
Not many people are familiar with what Title IX is. With that, some are also unfamiliar with how to go about things such as assault, stalking, etc. when it comes to Title IX.
“So as the coordinator, basically any report that comes, any information, if a student says, ‘Hey, I heard that this happened,’ anything like that, it’s my job to look into it and contact the student and see if they’re willing to come talk to me,” Thayer said. “If they’re not, that’s okay, but if they are, I let them know their resources, where they can go, etc. If they want to work with Title IX and do an investigation, we can. If they don’t, that’s fine too. If they want to go to the police, we’ll help with that. I just kind of go over all the options. I also write policy. I’m the person who ensures everyone on campus is trained. I’m kind of just the go-to for anything under the Title IX umbrella.”
Title IX, in all, is very complex. From seeking resources, getting help, and even investigating, it can be kind of a tricky situation.
“As the Title IX Coordinator I have to be non-biased,” Thayer said. “I can’t go into any sort of report assuming, you know, this person did this, or this person didn’t do this. It has to be a completely impartial process on my part. There are places (where) we have advocates; we have resources who can really go out there and support and champion one party or another. But sometimes it’s difficult for students to understand, you know. I very much want to believe all survivors, you know, the Me Too Movement, all of that. But I also have to do a very impartial review of the events or else it could, you know, put the entire investigation in jeopardy… It’s very hard for me to have someone come to me who has been a subject of sexual assault, sexual abuse, domestic abuse, and not be able to fix that right away and have them trust the process. It’s long and it’s hard to convey reality to the people who report. It’s not going to be an overnight fix; it’s going to be hard. I think that’s the hardest part of my job, not having perfect quick answers and everything being okay.”
Although it can be hard to ask for help, to deal with a long and drawn-out process, there are still some positive aspects to look at.
“I am most looking forward to getting to know the students,” Thayer said. “I’m very student-centered. This campus has a very unique and positive energy, and I think my role is something that has been needed for quite a while. My favorite part of the job is, I think, going to be able to teach students that there are options and what they are. We want to hear; we don’t want to ignore anything like this. We want to try and help, and we want the students to have a voice in the process.”
If you or someone you know is seeking resources regarding Title IX and what it entails, has any questions, etc., email Jamie Thayer at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 620-235-4186.