Title IX at Muhlenberg College
On August 14, 2020, the final Title IX regulations issued by the U.S. Department of Education went into effect. Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 is a federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in education programs or activities operated by recipients of federal financial assistance.
Here is a timeline of events and communications related to changes to Title IX at Muhlenberg College:
- November 29, 2018 – The U.S. Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights publishes proposed Title IX rule.
- November 30, 2018 – Muhlenberg College’s President John Williams sends a communication to the campus community about the proposed Title IX rule.
- January 24, 2019 – Muhlenberg College’s Office of Equity & Title IX and the student peer educator group, Voices of Strength, present a panel discussion on Title IX and proposed changes to Title IX in Seegers. Here is an article about the event.
- January 30, 2019 – Final Comment Letter to Department of Education written on behalf of twenty-four liberal arts colleges including Muhlenberg College is submitted by Pepper Hamilton to the U.S. Department of Education.
- May 6, 2020 - The U.S. Department of Education publicly releases the Final Title IX rule.
- May 7, 2020 - Interim President of Muhlenberg College, Kathy Harring, and Interim Director of Equity and Title IX, Christine Wechsler, send an email message to the Muhlenberg College community about the new Title IX rule.
- May 21, 2020 - Muhlenberg College’s Office of Equity & Title IX, Department of Prevention Education, and the Counseling Center held a virtual community conversation and Q & A on the new Title IX rule. Click this link: 5-21-20 Title IX Convo and Q & A to view the slides used during the event.
- August 14, 2020 - Campus-wide communication sent about changes made to the College's Equal Opportunity and Nondiscrimination Policy and accompanying procedures due to the new Title IX rule.
- August 26, 2020 - Muhlenberg College’s Office of Equity & Title IX, Department of Prevention Education, and the Counseling Center held another virtual community conversation and Q & A on the new Title IX rule and changes that were made to the College's policies and procedures due to the new rule. Slides used during the event can be viewed here.
- September 11, 2020 - Presentation on an overview of changes made to Equal Opportunity and Nondiscrimination Policy and Procedures due to the new Title IX rule given to internal investigators and decision-makers. Slides from the presentation can be viewed here.
- September 18-20, 2020 - Muhlenberg College's Title IX Coordinator, internal investigators, and decision-makers, participate in a virtual Title IX training with Cozen O'Connor's Institutional Response Group. Slides from the training can be viewed here.
What is Title IX?
Title IX is a federal civil rights law that prohibits sex discrimination at educations institutions. The law states: "No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance."
Who is Covered by Title IX?
Educational institutions that receive federal financial assistance are covered by Title IX, and every student and employee of the educational institution is protected by and held accountable under Title IX. In compliance with Title IX, Muhlenberg College prohibits sex discrimination that may be committed by a student, employee, or a third party on Muhlenberg's campus, as defined in the College's Equal Opportunity and Nondiscrimination Policy.
Report to the Office of Civil Rights
Individuals at the College have the right to file a complaint with the Office of Civil Rights (OCR), U.S. Department of Education at www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list
Safety and Resource Information for Victims/Survivors of Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, Sexual Assault, and Stalking
- Prioritize your safety: Go to a safe location as soon as you are able. If you are off campus and in an emergency situation, call 911. You may also call Allentown Police Department’s non-emergency line at 610-437-7751.
- Seek immediate medical attention if you are injured, or if you believe you may have been exposed to an STI/STD or potential pregnancy. Campus Safety (484-664-3110) will provide transportation to the local hospital of your choice. The Lehigh Valley Hospital Emergency Room at 17th and Chew Streets are prepared to treat sexual assault victims. After hours, on-call Student Health Services nursing staff is available for students by calling Campus Safety (ext. 3110) for emergency situations.
- Evidence Preservation: It is important to preserve physical evidence that may include tissue and fluid samples, evidence of violence, sheets, towels, clothing, etc. You may choose to avoid washing, bathing, urinating, etc. until after being examined at the hospital, if possible. Because evidence of a sexual assault can deteriorate quickly, you may choose to seek a medical exam as soon as possible. Evidence collection should be completed within 120 hours of an assault, but fluid, hair samples, and DNA can be collected for a long time thereafter. Even if you have washed, evidence can often still be obtained. After 120 hours, it may still be helpful to have medical attention, even if you are not trying to obtain evidence of an assault. Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE) are trained in the collection of forensic evidence, and can check for injuries and exposure to sexually transmitted diseases. If you are still wearing any clothes worn during the assault, wear them to the hospital, but bring a change of clothes as the hospital will keep the clothes you are wearing as evidence. If you have changed clothes, bring the ones you were wearing during the assault to the hospital in a clean paper (not plastic) bag or wrapped in a clean sheet. Leave sheets/towels at the scene of the assault. Police will collect them. Typically, police will be called to the hospital to take custody of the rape kit, but it is up to you whether you want to speak with them or file a criminal complaint. The Crime Victims Council of the Lehigh Valley* provides onsite support at any of the Lehigh Valley hospital emergency rooms. Call 610-437-6611 for assistance 24/7. Other physical evidence that should be preserved, particularly for allegations of dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking, include records of witness names and contact information, witness statements, photographs of physical injuries (with date stamp), and documentation of written and electronic communication. You may wish to try to memorize details or write notes to remind you of details if you are able to do so.
- Options: You have options and are encouraged to contact a confidential resource on or off campus to discuss them. The following options are available to you:
- Do nothing until you are ready;
- Pursue resolution through Muhlenberg College; and/or
- Initiate criminal proceedings; and/or
- Initiate a civil process against the perpetrator.
Note on confidentiality: If a student wishes for the report to remain confidential, they may speak with Counseling Services (484-664-3178), the Student Health Center (484-664-3199), the College Chaplain (484-664-3120) or off-campus rape crisis resource centers such as Crime Victims Council of the Lehigh Valley (610-437-6611). Students may switch from confidential or anonymous reporting to filing a formal complaint at any time.
A victim/survivor may pursue whatever option or combination of options is best for them. Students that wish to have an incident investigated by the College should contact the Title IX Coordinator. Employees should contact the Title IX Coordinator, the Vice President of Human Resources, or the Provost. Those who would like to file a criminal complaint should contact Campus Safety or local police where the assault occurred. The College system and the criminal system work independently from one another.
If a victim/survivor is interested in obtaining an external order of protection (e.g. restraining orders, injunctions, Protection From Abuse orders, or Protection from Sexual Violence or Intimidation orders), the Title IX Coordinator or Campus Safety are available to provide information to students and employees to assist them in obtaining such protective orders. Crime Victims Council of the Lehigh Valley can also provide this service and provide advocacy by accompanying victims to Court and guiding them through the process. If external orders of protection are obtained, please notify Campus Safety or the Title IX Coordinator so that these orders can be observed on campus. The Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape (PCAR) also provides options: http://www.pcar.org/search-synonyms/civil-protection-orders.
To learn more, please contact one of the following offices or organizations:
Director of Equity & Title IX Coordinator, 484-664-3562, 8:30 – 5:00 M-F (Students & Employees)
Campus Safety, 484-664-3110, 24/7 (Students & Employees)
Student Health Services*, 484-664-3199, 8:00 – 4:30, M-F (Students)
Counseling Services*, 484-664-3178, 8:30 – 4:30, M-F, on-call 24/7 (Students)
Vice President for Human Resources, 484-664-3166, 8:30 - 5:00 M-F (Employees)
Employee Assistance Program (EAP), 800-395-1616 (Employees)
Crime Victims Council of the Lehigh Valley* (CVCLV), 610-437-6611, 24-hour hotline (Students & Employees)
Turning Point/Domestic Violence Shelter*, 877-438-4957, 24-hour helpline (Students & Employees)
*Note that campus officials may contact on-call staff from other departments when their offices are closed or they are otherwise unable to assist immediately. The caller does not have to provide the dispatcher with information about an incident. The caller should ask to speak with a nurse or counselor on call.
Interim and Supportive Measures
Upon notice of alleged domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking or upon request by a Complainant or Respondent, the College will evaluate whether initial or interim supportive, remedial, responsive and/or protective actions are necessary. Such actions are non-disciplinary, non-punitive, individualized services offered as appropriate, as reasonably available, and without fee or charge to the parties to restore or preserve access to the College’s education program or activity, including measures designed to protect the safety of all parties or the College’s educational environment, and/or deter harassment, discrimination, and/or retaliation.
These measures can include but are not limited to:
- No contact orders;
- Referrals to counseling and/or medical services;
- Academic support or accommodations;
- Living or working arrangement adjustments;
- Transportation accommodations;
- Visa and immigration assistance;
- Student financial aid counseling;
- Providing campus escort;
- Referrals to the Employee Assistance Program for employees;
- Referral to campus and community support resources; and/or
- Other academic or work schedule and assignment accommodations deemed appropriate by the Director of Equity and Title IX Coordinator or an Official with Authority.
The College will maintain as private as possible measures implemented, provided confidentiality does not impair the College’s ability to provide the measures, and that it does not infringe upon the rights of a Complainant or Respondent.
The College may take additional prompt remedial and/or disciplinary action with respect to any Community Member or third party upon a finding that they have engaged in harassing or discriminatory behavior under the Equal Opportunity and Nondiscrimination Policy. Procedures for handling reported incidents are fully described in the Equal Opportunity and Nondiscrimination Procedures for Students, Faculty, or Staff.