Bay reviews sexual harassment rules

ESCANABA — The Bay College Board of Trustees was given an update on recent college initiatives related to the anti-sexual harassment regulations covered by Title IX during its meeting Wednesday.

The presentation began with a look at changes to Bay’s Title IX team from Director of Human Resources Bridget Kennedy, who has been Bay’s Title IX coordinator. However, this will not be the case for much longer — her last day at the college is Friday.

Kennedy’s position on Bay’s Title IX team will be filled by Director of Student Life Dave Laur, who has been serving as Bay’s deputy Title IX coordinator for students.

“We’re in transition, but we’re moving forward,” Kennedy said. The team is working to find a new deputy Title IX coordinator for students, as well.

Kennedy also provided the board with a general overview of Bay’s efforts related to Title IX. In the 2014-15 school year, the college dealt with three Title IX cases. The following year, that number rose to 16 cases.

“Does that mean that there’s more sexual assault issues and concerns? Probably not, but we became more aware,” she said.

Bay’s Title IX case numbers have declined in the past two years. They handled eight of these cases in 2016-17, and have handled six so far in 2017-18.

Beth Berube, Bay’s human resources manager and deputy Title IX coordinator for employees, went on to give the board a look at prevention and awareness efforts related to Title IX at Bay. One of the initiatives mentioned by Berube was the presence of a link to information about Title IX on Bay’s website.

“It’s a two-click way of somebody reporting any issues to us,” she said.

The college has also taken steps related to Title IX targeted specifically at students. These include annual training, statements in Bay’s course catalog and syllabi, and the inclusion of information on Title IX in SOAR (Bay’s student orientation program).

“When our students are just coming in as brand-new students, they’re talking about that at their student orientations,” Berube said.

Berube said steps that have been taken to increase awareness and understanding of Title IX among Bay College employees have included updates on Title IX at meetings before the start of each semester, efforts to provide information on Title IX to newly-hired employees, and annual training.

“Our employees experience that training every year, as well,” she said.

In addition to reminders like Wednesday’s presentation, members of the Bay College Board of Trustees have received regular training on Title IX since 2016. They will also soon start receiving links to Bay’s employee Title IX training.

Berube noted that these efforts have paid off. According to a survey of 102 college employees, 99 percent said they strongly agreed or agreed that they understood Title IX and Bay’s policies and processes related to it. Additionally, 98 percent strongly agreed or agreed that they knew who to contact if they had a concern or issue related to Title IX.

Laur gave the board a summary of Bay’s Title IX reporting system. He said all responsible employees of the college are mandatory reporters, and that “responsible employees” are defined as people who have the authority to take action on matters related to sexual harassment, who have the duty to report incidents of this nature, or who could reasonably be thought of as an authority figure.

“That means that … you fit under this as a responsible employee,” Laur said to the board, noting that this is the case even though the board’s members are not paid employees of the college.

According to Laur, complaints under Title IX are made by either a reporting party (someone who has experienced an event of sexual harassment or sexual violence), a bystander, or a responsible employee. This person then shares this information with one of the college’s Title IX representatives.

During the pre-investigation process, one of Bay’s deputy Title IX coordinators reaches out to the reporting party to offer support and help filing a complaint. If the reporting party is reluctant, the deputy Title IX coordinator documents the conversation and offers resources; if they wish to file a complaint, the investigation process officially begins.

In this process, the deputy Title IX coordinator works with an investigator and interviews people involved with the complaint. Every step of the process is documented, and all documentation is reviewed by the parties involved. All participants also sign a notice addressing retaliation and confidentiality.

Bay College President Laura Coleman thanked Bay’s Title IX team for their efforts.

“We have an amazing team that is doing this,” she said.

In other business, the board:

– voted to eliminate language referencing “nursing lead instructors” from the college’s full-time faculty contract.

– voted in favor of letting Trustee Terri Mileski serve as its representative to the West Campus Advisory Board.

– presented a resolution of appreciation to former trustee James Hermans.

– presented the TORCH Award to Community Events/Marketing Coordinator Melissa VanBrocklin.

– welcomed two new employees and one employee taking on another role at the college — Dean of Arts and Sciences Dr. Amy Reddinger, Baseball Coach/Sports Information Director Mike Pankow, and Softball Coach Heidi Charon (who also serves as Bay’s retention program manager).