The Chesapeake College Board of Trustees unanimously approved Tuesday morning a comprehensive update of the college’s Title IX policies with respect to sexual violence, domestic violence and harassment while adopting policy designed to assist pregnant and parenting students to stay in college.
“This package is a real step forward in helping deal with issues that are impacting an increasing number of our students,” said Dr. Barbara Viniar, Chesapeake College’s president.
While Chesapeake College has not yet had to address specific incidents of sexual violence, Dr. Viniar said the national statistics are staggering.
“One-in-four women will survive a sexual assault or an attempted sexual assault by the time she graduates from college, according to The Campus Sexual Assault Study,” noted Dr. Viniar. “And one-in-10 men will survive a sexual assault or an attempted sexual assault while in college. Those are statistics we cannot ignore.”
Those statistics – along with federal and state mandates with respect to Title IX and related gender-based law – led Chesapeake’s administration to totally revamp its approach to gender-based misconduct and discrimination. In addition to revising its college policies and gender-based misconduct definitions, Chesapeake has launched a Title IX webpage that includes student rights and responsibilities under Title IX, emergency community resources, risk-reduction recommendations, and Title IX contact information.
Chesapeake is also in the process of producing a Title IX video to raise student awareness of gender-based misconduct and how the college is positioned to address these issues.
“We have nearly 30 administrators, faculty, staff and students who are participating in the video project,” said Dr. Richard Midcap, Chesapeake College’s vice president for student affairs. “It’s a very thoughtful, well-designed video that will make our policy clear and provide students with critical contact information for both reporting misconduct and obtaining help.”
“Our goal is to raise awareness of the issues as well as the ways the college is prepared to combat these challenges and respond to student concerns,” said Susan Cianchetta, the college’s director of human resources. “Our Title IX website provides students with a wealth of information and resources.”
Dr. Midcap commended the many community organizations committed to dealing with gender-based misconduct.
“Corsica River Mental Health Services is a long-time partner who has helped countless Chesapeake College students,” said Dr. Midcap. “For All Seasons, the Mid-Shore Council on Family Violence and University of Maryland Shore Medical Centers are just some of the other partners who work with the college to help deal with students in crisis.”
The board also approved policy that will make it easier for pregnant and parenting students to obtain accommodations relating to their children’s births and illnesses. The board was also apprised of the college’s actions in addressing federal directives with respect to transgender students.
“While the highest-profile issue with respect to transgender students is bathroom and locker room access, colleges are also dealing with privacy issues with respect to a student’s gender identity as opposed to the gender identity assigned at birth,” said Dr. Clay Railey, Chesapeake’s vice president for academic affairs. “As per federal law, the college will allow students to use the bathroom and locker room facilities of the gender with which they identify. We will also protect personally identifiable information with respect to their name and gender identity assigned at birth to be in compliance with Department of Justice and Department of Education directives.”