The First Step is Coming Forward

By Alexa Devore

Jambar Contributor

It doesn’t need to have happened last week or last month. No matter when sexual assault has occurred, there are many steps to recovery. But the first step is speaking up.

Cynthia Kravitz, director of equal opportunity and policy development and Title IX coordinator, said the Title IX office’s main function is to do whatever they can to protect the individual when there is an issue with sexual assault.

“Title IX is a federal statute that says no person should be discriminated on the basis of sex in any program or activity that receives federal or financial assistance,” Kravitz said.

The statute, established in 1972, states, “No person in the United State shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program of activity receiving federal financial assistance.”

Historically, Title IX is what provided women the freedom of discrimination in sports. The scope has widened and Title IX now protects women against sexual assault.

“The Title IX office is a resource. If someone has experienced sexual misconduct, sexual harassment, sexual assault – even attempted rape – the Title IX office can provide resources to an individual,” Kravitz said.

If students need academic accommodations because of their experience, the Title IX policy development office is there to help with those accommodations as well, Kravitz said.

“The office works with faculty that someone may need more time, they may need adjustments to deadlines,” Kravitz said.

Title IX also works along with the office of housing and residence life if there is an issue and someone needs to be moved or if the accused perpetrator is in their dorms and needs to be moved.

“We work with the Youngstown Police Department. If the victim wants to file a police report and pursue criminal charges, an investigation is done,” Kravitz said.

When a legal agreement is broken, the policies office refers to the student code of conduct for action.

For employees, an investigation is also done and then the office goes to human resources for disciplinary actions.

“If the alleged perpetrator [is] not an employee or a student, it limits what we can do, but we can help the victim work to get a civil protection order,” Kravitz said.

If a student does not want an investigation, there are resources such as no contact orders and other things to solve the issue without legal action, Kravitz said.

Ann Jaronski, psychologist with student counseling services, said her office provides confidential help and is not mandated to report alleged assaults.

“We can help by being a place where they could actually talk about what happened without any kind of fear of repercussions or retaliations,” Jaronski said

Jaronski said the help all depends on the type of need to fulfill the students’ accommodations.

The office of student outreach and support is another resource provided by YSU as a safe place, said Nicole Kent-Strollo, director of student outreach and support.

“It’s not uncommon for someone to contact me on my cell the morning after an assault,” Kent-Strollo said.

Support for the victim is most important, Kent-Strollo said.

“I have background as a women’s health nurse practitioner so I understand,” Kent-Strollo said. “If I end up accompanying them to the hospital, I am only there as a support person, not to offer medical or legal advice.”