Highlights from BOT meeting

Corryn Brock and Elizabeth Taylor

The Board of Trustees discussed changes to the way Title IX hearings are done during its meeting Friday.

Colleges and universities throughout the country were required to comply with the regulations by August 14.

Changes vary but overall but when the changes were initially introduced to universities, U.S. Department of Education Betsy DeVos said they were meant to balance the scales of justice in campus hearings of Title IX and secure due process.

Changes include:

· Institutions must allow cross-examination by advisers of complaining parties, responding parties and witnesses during live hearings by officials from the university or college.

· Colleges are only required to respond to off-campus sexual harassment reports if the location of the harassment is a place officially recognized as a place used for a student or institution organization.

· Colleges will use one of two standards of proof will be used, preponderance of evidence or clear and convincing, and must the standard for all hearings.

· Domestic violence, dating violence and stalking are now considered examples of sexual harassment.

· Sexual harassment is now defined as “any unwelcome conduct that a reasonable person would find so severe, pervasive and objectively offensive that it denies a person equal educational access,” but sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking do not need to need to meet the “severe, pervasive and objectively offensive” part of the description.

· Colleges are not required to handle reports of sexual harassment or assault that happens in American study abroad programs but can apply misconduct policies for reports of those circumstances.

· If a Title IX coordinators receives several informal complaints of harassment against a single respondent a formal complaint process will not be required for a hearing.

· Colleges cannot use a single investigator model but will now be required to use three officials to work individually to receive reports, investigate and make decisions.

· Colleges now must train all personnel involved in the Title IX process and publish training materials online that involves review of the new definition, scope of the application of Title IX, how to conduct formals and informal processes, serving impartially and avoidances of bias.

· Title IX may be conducted virtually but staff must be trained to conduct meetings virtually and transcripts must be made.

· Colleges must provide evidence related to allegations to parties and advisers at least ten days prior to when a response is required, doing away with gag orders.

· No time frame must be followed for responding to reports of sexual misconduct but should have a “reasonably prompt” response time.

 

University President David Glassman also asked on behalf of the BOT that the Naming Committee address the request of the changing of the name of Douglas Hall.

The change has been brought up multiple times over the years, but the committee has consistently chosen to keep the name of the residence hall.

The hall is named after Steven Douglas to commemorate the debate between Abraham Lincoln and Douglas that took place September 18, 1858 in Charleston, according to Glassman.

“The university Naming Committee indicated that we should continue to retain the name of Douglas Hall on the building,” Glassman said. “The reason for that really comes down to the commemoration of the Lincoln-Douglas debates in the 1850s.”

Glassman acknowledged that fact that Douglas supported slavery and felt strongly on the matter.

“However at the same time, knowing that Steven Douglas was an ardent racist and such a strong proponent of pro-slavery, the question for the president’s council was ‘should we have any building that has the name of an ardent racist in the forefront of that building, regardless as to what was the original intent,’” Glassman said.

Board member Audrey Edwards said changing the name may be a good way to show consideration to Black students and community members.

“What seemed less important at that time is certainly at the forefront of people’s minds now, Edwards said. “I strongly believe that renaming the hall would be an expression of respect for the Black community that is very much needed at this point.”

Philip Thompson, member pro team of the BOT, said the issue has been brought up since he attended Eastern.

“This is something that when I was a student, students on campus protested about, Thompson said. “There’s not many opportunities we have to correct things that happened hundreds of years ago, so I think this is a great way for EIU to say we respect people of color, not just African American students but all people of color, and that we respect that the world is changing and we want to be on board with that.”

BOT Chairperson Barb Baurer said if they feel the need to explain the reason for the name, it may be time for a change.

Other action items heard at the meeting included:

· A statement on board responsibilities for intercollegiate athletics

· A purchase approval for revisions of the Victory Suite budget

· The second reading of both a proposed amendment to BOT Policy Article II, §G.2 and a proposed revision to BOT Regulation Section II.B.7.h.

· Corporate resolutions for bank accounts

· A drainage district easement for Buckler Farm

· Naming recognition for a gift from First Mid Bank and Trust, naming the basketball and volleyball courts “First Mid Court”

 

Information items included the president’s report which featured a presentation from Athletic Director Tom Michaels on intercollegiate and a report on Title IX from Title IX Coordinator Shawn Peoples, reports form constituencies, a summary of purchases with costs ranging from $100,000 to $249,999, fiscal 2020 deposit and investment report and university highlights.

 

Elizabeth Taylor and Corryn Brock can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected]