Linda Alvarez talks about Title IX and students rights
Minnesota State University, Mankato offers many rights and resources to students who may or may not even know what these things are – amongst them is Title IX.
Title IX by law is that “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”.
Linda Alvarez, the Director of Equal Opportunity and the Title IX Coordinator says, “Title IX is specific to sex discrimination, but sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination as well as sexual violence. Where it comes to play for students is that there are rights that are afforded under that law that we carry out throughout our process to make sure we’re in compliance with it. Student’s might have an issue or complaint where they feel like they’re being discriminated against, they can bring that forward to the university and we would do our inquiry and investigation, and try to address the situation.”
Title IX also gives certain rights to students who are pregnant. Under Title IX, pregnant students can get help with receiving accommodations and modifications to help complete their semester. Pregnant students can be excused and cleared of their absences if their doctor deems it necessary.
Title IX prohibits a vast array of sex discrimination acts such as bullying, cyberbullying, gender-based harassment, etc. amongst students and staff.
Alvarez states, “For students it’s important to know what are those protections, what are those rights. If they think they’re might be an issue with their experience that might be sex discrimination, they can come forward to our office, and they can meet with us to figure out what their options are and whether or not they want to make a complaint with the university.”
Students and staff also have the choice to remain anonymous when filing a complaint or speaking with Alvarez about “their options, what the process is, or who they can talk to.” They may also file a complaint online or talk about their options via phone call.
According to Alvarez, Title IX is an important law to have in universities. She says, “I think it’s important for the accountability of the institution and the people that are part of the university community to ensure that we are operating in a way that is not discriminatory to any student. And so the accountability piece is the most important, which then informs our policies, our processes, and our protocols in ensuring that students have equal access.”
If you are a student or member of the staff and are facing an issue relating to sex discrimination, please visit the Office of Equal Opportunity and Title IX. The office is currently located in Armstrong Hall 112, but is looking to switch office locations in the near future. You can also make a call to the office about any concerns at 507-389-2986 or on their website http://www.mnsu.edu/titleix.
Alvarez wants students to know, “I think that one of the things that we try to empathize as much as possible is that we can be a resource, and we want to serve students as a resource. Don’t be afraid to come in and talk to us, and find out what those options are.”
Feature photo by Maria Ly | MSU Reporter.