A conversation with Stacy DeRooy

A. Sue Weisler

Stacy DeRooy, RIT’s Title IX coordinator

Stacy DeRooy, RIT’s Title IX coordinator since 2015, wants to raise awareness of her office’s role on campus.

Why does RIT have a Title IX coordinator?
Title IX of the Federal Education Amendments requires all colleges and universities receiving federal funding to have a Title IX coordinator. The coordinator’s role is to ensure RIT complies with requirements that mandate a process for reporting incidents that is responsive and equitable. Title IX prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender which includes sexual misconduct, sexual harassment, sexual violence, as well as protection from retaliation for those reporting. At RIT, we have incorporated Title IX compliance with the Violence against Women act and the state’s Enough is Enough policies into the responsibilities of the Title IX coordinator.

What are the primary responsibilities of your office?
Eliminate gender-based harassment and discrimination, prevent reoccurrence, and address the effects of harassment or discrimination.

What services does your office provide, and who do you serve?
The office is a resource for the campus community, serving students, faculty, staff and visitors. I oversee the process, ensuring that we are equitable and in compliance with laws and our own policies and procedures. I promote available options, help Student Affairs and Human Resources provide campus-wide prevention and awareness education and monitor trends in order to address issues as they arise.

What happens if a Title IX complaint is filed?
I reach out to the complainant to discuss options and provide a packet that includes process information and resources. The next steps are largely determined by the complainant. If a student is accused, the complainant may decide to simply have a report on record, to have Student Conduct issue a no-contact order or have Public Safety investigate. A case management team that includes me, deputy coordinators, Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution and Public Safety meet weekly.

What if the complainant doesn’t want an investigation?
RIT can launch an investigation without the complainant’s permission if the accused has a history of violent behavior, the incident represents escalation in unlawful conduct, there’s a perceived risk the accused will commit additional acts of violence or discrimination, a weapon or force were used, the complainant is a minor or whether RIT possesses other means to obtain evidence and whether available information reveals a pattern of perpetration at a given location by a particular group. Otherwise, we do not investigate it.

What if the accused is a student?
When a complaint goes through the investigation process, depending on the level of the alleged offense, we may agree a conversation with the accused is appropriate or a case may go to a conduct hearing. Two conduct officers are assigned to hear every case. They review the Public Safety investigation and offer both the accused and complainant the opportunity to share their perspectives of what transpired. Once all relevant information has been shared, the parties are dismissed while the Hearing Officers deliberate. Outcomes range from no action taken (finding of not enough evidence to support a policy violation) to probation, suspension or expulsion. Both parties have the opportunity to have one level of appeal to be heard by the University Appeals Board. At the conclusion of the appeal, the matter is considered final.

What if the accused is faculty or staff?
Human Resources will conduct a prompt and thorough investigation. An HR manager reviews all the material and determines if policies or procedures were violated. If the accused is found responsible, the manager will make recommendations to the accused person’s manager regarding outcomes, which could include training, more frequent performance evaluations, suspension or termination. Both parties can appeal the outcome, which is reviewed by the vice president for Diversity and Inclusion.

Does your office work with or coordinate with others?
The most frequent interactions are with the Center for Women and Gender, The Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution Office, Public Safety and Human Resources. I also work closely with our local rape crisis provider, RESTORE, and I’m a member of a regional consortium of Title IX practitioners.

What is the biggest challenge in performing the duties of your office?
Spreading the word—making sure that everyone on campus is aware of the reporting responsibilities and options, the process and resources. We’re making progress, as evidenced by the increase in community members reporting directly to my office.

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