Social Media Post Brings Forth Complaints Against Title IX Office

Social Media Post Brings Forth Complaints Against Title IX Office

The Redlands Bulldog has previously published stories surrounding issues with the Office of Equity & Title IX at the University of Redlands which handles issues related to sexual misconduct. 

Five years ago, former Editor-in-Chief Willow Higgins brought attention to how Patricia Caudle, the Title IX coordinator in April 2017, responded to a letter from a distraught Bulldog writer whose alleged attacker was found not responsible for their sexual assault, which can be read here. Later that year, Erica Moorer was hired as the new deputy Title IX Coordinator. 

This school year, a former female student of the university created an Instagram post that shared her story about sexual assault and abuse, which she believes was poorly handled by the University of Redlands Office of Equity & Title IX. 

Since sharing her story, which caught the attention of numerous community members online, several students are now criticizing the university for not punishing the suspect, despite allegedly admitting to sexual assault during the investigation. He currently remains enrolled in classes. 

Comments on the post include but are not limited to:

@speak_our_truth_inc:

@universityofredlands … I spoke with the Title IX coordinator who ensured the protection of survivors are key. According to the comments and [complainant] seems you all have failed multiple women and may NOT be living up to your responsibility to Title IX as a federally funded school.”

@faythefae:

@universityofredlands continues to side with abusers and not victims. Even when I did come forward nothing was done for me either. Faculty and students alike are protected for wrongdoings as long as it makes them look good. This stops now. I’m with you [name retracted]. Nobody should’ve ever had to go through this and nobody should go through this again.”

@jessica.pfalzgraf:

The University of Redlands protects perpetrators of violence and assault and makes victims feel like they are in the wrong for reporting. Victims are “encouraged” to take a leave of absence while the perpetrators continue at the school unscathed. Redlands lays off staff and increases tuition but cannot provide adequate mental health supports for victims in crisis. When confronted with that they claim they are a “small university” yet per a staff member, they can spend the equivalent of that staff members YEARLY salary on the “Inauguration”?! Disgusting abuse of power and funds at the expense of vulnerable students. Shall we call Newkirk, Marie Antoinette?”

Brent Geraty, former General Counsel for the University of Redlands, became Interim Director of Equity and Title IX Coordinator following Erica Moorer’s resignation in Dec. 2021. In an interview with the Redlands Bulldog, he explained that college campuses established Title IX offices in 2011 when the U.S. Department of Education signaled that Title IX should expand beyond advancing equity in athletics and that sexual violence is sex discrimination in its “Dear Colleague” letter. The university started to address sexual violence after asking faculty and administrators to take on positions within the Office of Title IX along with their current workload. 

When asked if all federally funded universities are required to conduct and construct their Title IX offices the same way, Geraty responded, “No. There are regulations that all federally funded universities must follow, but as long as an institution is compliant with those regulations there is some flexibility in the details of how an office is structured and how policies and procedures are implemented. If you examine Title IX policies at various universities, you will see a lot that are similar (likely due to regulations) but you will also see some slight variations. All federally funded universities must have fair processes to deal with allegations of discrimination.”

The current regulations all schools adhere to are leftover products from the Trump Administration, which Geraty commented undid everything the Obama Administration had put in place regarding Title IX formalities. The Biden Administration has not made any changes to Title IX regulations since the Trump Administration. 

Geraty expressed he finds it unhelpful for presidential administrations to have a significant effect on regulations. One example is the procedure of cross-examination of both the complainant and respondent during hearings; it doesn’t seem appropriate for educational settings, he said, but both parties have the right to do so per the requirement put in place by the Trump administration. 

Geraty explained that when people come into the Title IX office, they clarify they are not law enforcement and that they cannot put people in jail. However, they can help facilitate a police report should someone want to. He emphasized their responsibilities are to implement the university’s policies regardless of a police investigation or not: “Our obligation is independent of the police’s.” 

Under the Obama Administration, investigators made the final judgment and implemented sanctions. When the Trump Administration reviewed Title IX, they changed the process to make it so that responsibility belongs to a panel of three faculty members. This is a controversial component because, as Geraty explained, some argue that investigators have the best ability to recommend sanctions for the respondents found responsible. On the other hand, their close involvement in the case is also viewed as being biased towards a decision, thus why the Trump Administration revoked that role from investigators. Sanctions vary, and circumstances may not warrant expulsion. 

The Instagram post detailing a former student’s experiences with the Title IX office also asked others to tag the university and voice their dissatisfaction. Following that post, which was published on February 28th, and then again on April 6th, the University of Redlands Instagram account disabled its comment section on all posts from April 5 to April 17. 

Students want to be heard, so the Redlands Bulldog asked Geraty about ways students can participate and be more involved with equity and the Title IX office.There are a number of ways that our office interacts with students. First, we have four student interns who work with the office and help to develop educational programming to help other students learn and understand important issues,” Geraty commented. 

“For example, what is ‘affirmative consent’ and how is it different than ‘no means no’? Our office interacts regularly with students through these educational efforts.

Basically, we welcome any invitation to interact with students and students can stop

by the Office of Equity and Title IX any time someone is here.”

When it comes to concerns relating to investigations, student participation is limited. Besides the complainant (typically the victim of sexual assault survivor), the respondent (the alleged assaulter), and witnesses, other persons cannot interject in cases or investigative processes. “Pursuant to Federal regulations, the Office of Equity and Title IX has a responsibility to be fair and neutral when formal complaints are brought. The Title IX Coordinator does not “decide” things. Instead, the Coordinator ensures that fairness is given to complainants and respondents,” Geraty stated.

Upon breaking down how the Title IX office functions, it is apparent that there are limited checks and balances. Faculty and administrators are put in positions of making decisions that affect every single student living on campus. When a respondent who several students believe was wrongfully found innocent of sexual assault, those living among the assaulter feel unsafe. 

In the instance of the social media post, the complainant shared the name and picture of the alleged assaulter. Students familiar with her story were then able to notify other undergraduates via group chats whenever the perpetrator was spotted in dorm halls as cautionary warnings for hall residents. The survivor no longer lived on campus when these warnings were sent out, however, other students felt unsafe around the individual. 

Regardless, a decision was made and the school year has ended despite many people expressing concern that an injustice has yet to be corrected. Geraty explained they can connect students with other resources, such as referring them to the counseling center or the academic and student success center, but that’s about all they can extend themselves beyond federal protocols. 

If you or someone you know have experienced sexual assault and would like to discuss your options or file a report,  please visit https://sites.redlands.edu/titleixandequity/filing-a-report22/ and contact Brent Geraty.

You can also file a report to local law enforcement at (909) 798-7681, ext. 1. If you are ever in immediate danger, please call 911 or email/text 911@redlandspolice.org if you are in a position where you cannot make a phone call.

If you wish to speak to someone confidentially (meaning not connecting with the Office of Equity and Title IX Office), you can contact any of the following on-campus resources: 

Counseling Service: 909-748-8108 or 24-Hour Crisis Line: 909-748-8960 

Chaplain’s Office: 909-748-8368 

For more information, please visit www.redlands.edu/titleixandequity

Photo contributed by Bulldog photographer Kyle Eaton.