On Wednesday, September 10, a survey released to students meant to comply with Title IX was met with controversy. Title IX is a 1972 law designed to enforce gender equity in all federally funded educational programs. It is most well known for enforcing gender equity in athletic programs and educating students about sexual assault.
Goucher students quickly became upset with the program, which they found inappropriate. The survey included several invasive questions that asked students to provide private information about their sexual activities and drinking habits. Students also had issues with the survey’s definition of rape; it was described as a violent act between a man and a woman. Many students felt this minimized LGBTQIA issues. Some students were also triggered by the depictions of sexual assault shown in the program.
At a Q&A with President Bowen on Wednesday, September 17, Isaiah Zukowski, who hosted the event with the Goucher Student Government, was concerned about the lack of student input with regard to the survey and what that decision could possibly mean for the new administration’s future decisions. President Bowen said the administration was planning to include students in many upcoming decisions.
Many students who had issues with the survey expressed concern via email to President Jose Bowen and the Title IX Coordinator, Lucia Perfetti Clark. President Bowen acknowledged these concerns in an email to the student body on the evening of September 10, saying that he “didn’t have answers” at the time. He sent a longer email the next day.
In the second email, President Bowen expressed his admiration for the concern of the student body and addressed the various concerns emailed to him in a point-by-point manner. He stated that the administration asked the vendor to make it possible to fast-forward through the sexual assault situations and to remove the invasive questions from the survey.
He also listed three people that students could contact if they have continuing issues with the survey or any issues relating to it: Lucia Perfetti Clark, the Title IX coordinator, Chaplain Cynthia Terry, and Roshelle Kades, Assistant Director for Student Outreach.
The administration also discussed the students’ concern with the lack of information on LGBTQIA issues to the vendor. However, President Bowen emphasized both in his email and at the aforementioned Q&A that the survey was required to detail the various sexual assault crimes according to the definitions provided by the state of Maryland
Two student groups that deal with sexual issues on campus, FemCo and PRISM, expressed satisfaction with President Bowen’s timely response. However, PRISM said that they planned to meet with the Title IX coordinator to further discuss the lack of information on LGBTQIA issues in the survey.
President Bowen also informed the student body that there would be in-person sessions scheduled for early October for those who were still uncomfortable with the program. Many other students were happy that administration replied in a timely and empathetic manner and believed that the response signified a willingness to listen to students.