OP-ED: 10 things to know about Title IX and reporting sexual assault at USU

Stacy Sturgeon

Stacy Sturgeon
USU Title IX coordinator

With stories about inappropriate sexual behavior dominating the news cycle over the last few months, it’s an opportune time to remind our campus community that Utah State University does not tolerate sexual harassment, sexual assault, stalking and dating violence.


As USU’s Title IX Coordinator, my primary task is to respond to sexual misconduct allegations involving students and to ensure that USU complies with federal Title IX regulations on gender- and sex-based discrimination. In our most recent sexual misconduct survey, only 5 percent of those who experienced sexual assault filed a formal complaint with the university through Title IX. There are likely many reasons for this, but I don’t want a lack of knowledge about Title IX to be one of them.

Here are a few things you should know about Title IX, which could help you or someone you care about:

  1. If you make a report in good faith about sexual assault to the Title IX office, you will not be disciplined for drug or alcohol student code violations in connection with the incident, whether you were the victim or a witness.
  2. Making a report to the Title IX office does not automatically start and investigation. USU will do what you choose unless there are safety concerns for the campus community.
  3. The Title IX office is not a law enforcement agency. If you would like to pursue criminal justice, you should report the crime to the police department. USU has a limited ability to protect students when they are off campus.
  4. You are encouraged to report as soon as possible after an incident, but there is no time limit for making a report to the Title IX office.
  5. USU prohibits retaliation in response to a sexual misconduct report or participation in an investigation. Retaliation could include intimidation or harassment.
  6. You can access remedial measures, even if you do not want Title IX to pursue an investigation. This could include academic schedule adjustments, on-campus housing and work changes, or extra time for assignments.
  7. You have the opportunity to have a support person or advisor of your choice to accompany you to any meeting in the Title IX process. Both parties in an investigation also have an equitable right to share their story and review information provided.
  8. You have access to confidential resources at USU, including advocates at the Sexual Assault and Anti-Violence Information office and therapists at Counseling and Psychological Services (both located on the 3rd floor of the TSC). You can speak confidentially with these employees, who will not share your personal information, even with the Title IX office, without your permission.
  9. You can report to both the Title IX office and law enforcement. A Title IX investigation and a criminal investigation can take place at the same time. If you report to USU Police, they will forward your report and information to me (Title IX office) so that I can reach out with options for making a formal complaint through our office, as well as to talk with you about accommodations that could help lessen the impact of the incident on your academic studies.
  10. If you report to the Title IX office, you are encouraged to work with a victim advocate. An advocate can help you navigate your reporting options and provide emotional support through either a Title IX investigation or a criminal investigation. They are in your corner and are not required to be impartial like the staff involved in a Title IX investigation. Advocates are available on campus through the SAAVI office or off campus through CAPSA.

Experiencing sexual misconduct can be extremely traumatizing and have broad impacts on a student’s academic studies, work and personal life. Our intention is to provide reporting students with all the options so they can choose the resources they need and the best path for themselves. For more information about USU’s sexual assault resources, visit usu.edu/sexual-assault. To learn more about the role of Title IX or file a report, visit titleIX.usu.edu.


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