Campus News

Title IX turns 50

Compliance with the federal law means fostering a “safe and equitable” educational path for everyone at Carolina, says Title IX Coordinator Elizabeth Hall.

Portrait of Title IX Coordinator Elizabeth Hall
Elizabeth Hall has been with Carolina’s Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office since 2016 and has been Title IX coordinator since May 2021.

Fifty years ago on June 23, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 was signed into law by President Richard Nixon.

Title IX prohibits discrimination based on sex in education programs and activities that receive federal financial assistance, with programs and activities defined as “all of the operations of” a postsecondary institution.

Five decades later, the groundbreaking civil rights law continues to shape American higher education in a number of ways. The Well spoke with Elizabeth Hall, Carolina’s Title IX coordinator about what the law covers, accessible resources and what the future holds.

Tell us about you and your role at Carolina.

I’ve been with Carolina’s Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office since 2016. I’ve been in a few different roles here in the office, but I’ve been the Title IX coordinator since May 2021. As Title IX coordinator, I’m responsible for ensuring compliance with Title IX across campus — and that involves collaborating with departments, including student affairs, human resources, athletics and any other offices to ensure a safe and equitable environment. I also lead the team here in the EOC as we do the day-to-day work such as receiving reports, investigating complaints and responding to concerns.

What does Title IX implementation mean at Carolina?

Addressing misconduct is one piece of it. Within the EOC, we have policies that prohibit discrimination based on sex and those policies also prohibit sexual assault, sexual violence, interpersonal violence and stalking as forms of sex-based harassment. 

Discrimination based on sex also includes discrimination based on pregnancy or related medical conditions. The EOC also administers the University’s Policy on Pregnant and Parenting Students and that policy provides reasonable accommodations to students who are pregnant, postpartum or who have a pregnancy-related medical condition. Those accommodations support them in continuing their education while they’re pregnant or recovering from pregnancy or a related medical condition.

We also coordinate with athletics, with the primary focus being athletic equity and making sure there’s equitable opportunities for men and women athletes.

Could you break down the different teams in the EOC that handle Title IX?

We have a team of report and response coordinators (RRCs), who work with students, employees and community members who are experiencing sex-based discrimination and harassment. The RRCs take reports of discrimination and harassment, connect people to resources on campus and help reporting parties explore options for addressing the conduct, which can include support, education, voluntary resolution and/or investigation. We also have a team of investigators who investigate reports of sex-based discrimination.

“No person in the United States 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 or activity receiving federal financial assistance.” — from Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.

Have there been any policy changes recently? If so, how has that affected Carolina? 

In May 2020, the Department of Education issued new Title IX regulations that govern campus responses to sexual harassment, and it did affect UNC. The University adopted a new Policy on Prohibited Sexual Harassment under Title IX, which covers conduct that falls within the specific definitions of the Title IX regulations — a number of which were new definitions. We have that new policy as of August 2020, but we also maintained our Policy on Prohibited Discrimination, Harassment and Related Misconduct, which addresses other sexual harassment, sex-based discrimination, interpersonal violence and stalking that has effects on campus but isn’t covered by the Title IX sexual harassment policy.

What resources are available to the Carolina community?

We have a lot of really good resources here. One that is particularly important is our gender violence services coordinators. They provide confidential support for individuals experiencing any sort of gender-based violence, and they do provide support to faculty, staff and students. The University Ombuds Office is another confidential resource that is available for all members of our community. We have Counseling and Psychological Services, which provides mental health services for students as well as the Employee Assistance Program, which provides referrals and mental health resources for employees. The broader resource I would point to is safe.unc.edu, which has a comprehensive list of both campus and community resources.

What does the future of Title IX look like at Carolina?

Federally, the Department of Education has indicated that it will release new proposed Title IX regulations. Those proposed regulations are expected to be issued this month and once they are issued, the Department of Education will invite the public for feedback and comment on the proposed regulations before they are finalized. Whenever those are published, our office, in collaboration with our policy advisory group and other stakeholders, will assess our policies and processes and determine whether any changes will be necessary if the proposed regulations are ultimately adopted by the Department of Education. When the department issues final regulations, we would again be looking at whether we need to implement any policy changes.

What are the EOC’s goals for the future of Title IX at Carolina?

Our goals are always to be fostering a process that is accessible and equitable. I think our other big priority is to always be working with our partners across campus to increase our prevention efforts, particularly with respect to sexual violence, interpersonal violence and stalking, and providing education and prevention across campus.

What is most meaningful to you in your role as Title IX coordinator at Carolina?

Access to education has probably been the single most transformative thing in my life and my family’s life. So, to be able to play a role in ensuring that other folks have a safe and equitable experience in their own educational path is something that’s really important to me, and I really value that opportunity here at Carolina.

Learn more about Title IX regulations and policy at Carolina.