Oct. 9, 2017

Office of Institutional Equity reorganizes sexual harassment and discrimination policy

In the hopes of making harassment and discrimination reporting more clear, the Office of Institutional Equity is updating the language and organization for the policy at Cleveland State University.

Rachel Lutner, who took over as director of the Office of Institutional Equity and as Title IX coordinator at Cleveland State in January, is leading with small but impactful changes that will make the policy more understandable to use.

These clarifications to the current sexual harassment and discrimination policy relate to the changes issued by the Department of Education in 2011 and 2014.  At the time, the Obama administration issued changes that served as guidance surrounding the issues of Title IX.

“For the first time, the U.S. Department of Education was saying that (it) sees sexual violence as a form of gender discrimination,” Lutner said.

This is what led to many campuses, including Cleveland State to issue changes based on these guides.
The updates being made have to do with organizing it in a way that makes the terminology, language and definitions in the 16-page policy clearer and readable, which is being done through re-organization as well as rewriting the title of the policy itself.

“It’s currently called the discrimination and harassment policy, so if you were looking for sexual violence, you would never know that just from the titles that that’s where that stuff is in CSU’s policy,” Lutner says. “I think the law requires us to provide more information to students.”

Along with this, other terms such as retaliation, racial harassment and sexual exploitation are going to be more clearly defined and organized in the policy as well. This does not change the content of the policy, but rather re-organizes it for easier usability.

“There’s no special section in the policy titled ‘retaliation.’ It’s sort of buried. And I wanted to make that more clear, “ Lutner said. “I was trying to make the policy easier for our students to use, for their parents to use, for employees and visitors to campus because everybody falls under this one policy.”
The reorganized update was officially approved by the Cleveland State Board of Trustees as of Friday, Sept. 29th.


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