COM is committed to providing an environment that is free from all forms of discrimination, including discrimination based on sex.
What is Title IX?
Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 is a federal law intended to end sex discrimination in all areas of education.
- Applies to non-discrimination based on sex/gender to all recipients of federal funds, both public and private institutions
- Applies to issues of program equity, such as in athletics, and also to sexual harassment and sexual assault
Sexual harassment of students, which includes acts of sexual violence, is a form of sexual discrimination prohibited by Title IX.
Title IX Compliance Programs are imperative because:
- 1 in 4 college women are victims of an attempted or completed sexual assault (Fisher, 2000).
- Six percent of men reported an attempted or completed sexual assault (CDC, 2013).
- Nearly 2/3 of rapes were perpetrated by someone known to the victim (RAINN, 2013).
- 74% of perpetrators and 55% of rape victims were intoxicated (Abbey, 2002).
What is Sexual Misconduct?
Sexual misconduct is any non-consensual behavior of a sexual nature that is committed by force or intimidation or is otherwise unwelcome that is sufficiently severe, persistent or pervasive so as to limit a student’s ability to participate in or benefit from a COM program or activity or an employee’s ability to work in a non-discriminatory work environment.
What is Consent?
In Texas, consent is defined as an agreement to engage in sexual activity.
- Informed, knowing, and voluntary (freely given),
- Active (not passive),
- Affirmative action through clear words or actions that create mutually understandable permission regarding the conditions of sexual activity.
- Cannot be obtained by use of:
- Physical force, compelling threats, intimidating behavior, or coercion.
- Cannot be given by someone known to be – or should be known to be – mentally or physically incapacitated.
- Lack of protest or resistance does not equal consent.
- Consent should not be assumed.
- Must be present through the entire incident; consent can be withdrawn at any time.
- The inability to give consent may be a result of, but not limited to, the following
- Persons who are asleep or unconscious.
- Persons who are incapacitated due to the influence of drugs, alcohol, or medication.
- Persons who are unable to communicate consent due to a mental or physical condition, including minors.
Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)
In March 2013, the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act (VAWA) was signed, which focuses on improving the criminal justice response to violence against women. This includes improved accountability for colleges to educate students and prevent gender-based violence. Additional rights were provided to campus victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking.
Campus SaVE Act (Sexual Violence Elimination Act)
In 2013, the Campus SaVE Act was added to VAWA as an amendment, and it seeks to address the violence women face on campus. The act covers domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking. It requires incidents to be disclosed in the annual “Clery” campus crime statistic reports; clarifies minimum standards for institutional disciplinary procedures; instructs colleges and universities to provide programming for students and employees; and establishes collaboration between the U.S. Departments of Justice, Education, and Health and Human Services to collect and disseminate best practices for preventing and responding to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking.
Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972
Title IX is a federal law that prohibits sex discrimination and sexual harassment by institutions of higher education that receive federal financial aid. (See 20 U.S.C. § 1681.) Each institution must maintain a grievance process that is prompt, equitable, and impartial. Title IX also requires each institution to appoint one or more “Title IX Coordinators” to coordinate compliance with the statute. Title IX is enforced by the Office for Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Education.
Education, Prevention, and Programming
College of the Mainland will present awareness programs for new students and new employees, in addition to on-going awareness campaigns each academic year related to the awareness of sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking for all students and staff.
The College is required by law to investigate and respond to reports of sexual harassment, sexual violence, and other acts of sexual misconduct. Therefore, most College personnel will have a duty to report complaints to the College’s Title IX Coordinator. Some victims, however, may prefer a confidential consultation before deciding a course of action. Confidential communications are those communications that cannot be disclosed to another person without the victim’s consent. Victims may speak confidentially with Holly Bankston, LPC in the Student Success Center – 409-933-8520, or off-campus resources including medical professionals, licensed professional counselors, pastoral (religious) counselors, and certain counselors at a victim’s crisis centers which are listed below. These individuals are not required to make a report to the College’s Title IX Coordinator.
* Counselors and Student Success Advisors are available as a resource where students may obtain information about support services. De-identified information such as the date, time, and nature of the incident will be reported to the Title IX Coordinators. The purpose of this general reporting obligation is to enable the College to identify patterns or trends involving sexual harassment or violence. For general information about the complaint process, please visit with the College's Title IX Coordinator.
Anyone who has witnessed, knows about or has experienced a Title IX violation is encouraged to seek help and report the complaint to COM Campus Police, Title IX coordinator, or any college employee.
Faculty, staff and student employees who receive complaints of sexual harassment or sexual misconduct are required to report to the Title IX coordinator and/or their supervisor or department head.
All emergencies or any incident in which someone is in imminent danger shall be reported to Campus Police by dialing 409-933-8599. The Title IX Coordinator shall assist members of the college community in reporting incidents to law enforcement authorities upon request. The Title IX Coordinators will request the consent of the complainant (or alleged victim if different from the complainant) to report incidents of alleged sexual violence that occur on campus property to law enforcement. Members of the college community may decline to notify law enforcement authorities and decline their consent for the Title IX Coordinators to notify law enforcement if they wish.
Students may use this procedure to file a complaint against another a student, a College employee, College contractors, or third parties who are visiting the College or participating in a College activity. This complaint procedure constitutes the grievance procedure required by Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. As used in this procedure, “complaint” and “grievance” are synonymous.
- Dr. Helen Brewer, Vice President for Student Services/Title IX Administrator
Admin Building, Suite 217-00
- Dr. Sarah David, Director of Institutional Equity/Title IX Coordinator
Admin Building, Suite 116-00
- Holly Bankston - Counselor
Admin Building, Suite 110-02
Students who have experienced a sexual assault, sexual violence, stalking, domestic violence, or other crimes may file a report directly with the Campus Police or any local law enforcement agency. Students are not required to file a police complaint in order to receive assistance from the College. Additionally, reporting an offense does not commit the student to pursuing further legal action. Students who desire assistance in order to make a police report may contact the Vice President for Student Services, the Counseling Office, or the Executive Director of Human Resources.
Contact information for the Campus Police:
From campus phone: 599; from cell phones: 409-933-8599.
Why is it so important to report?
The College has a duty to respond promptly to all complaints of sexual harassment and sexual misconduct, whether on or off-campus incidents (under limited circumstances). The purpose is to prevent sex discrimination on campus, promptly address reported incidents, limit the effects of harassment on the educational and work environment and prevent its recurrence.
Confidentiality and Anonymous Reports
Notwithstanding individuals’ concern for their privacy when they report a possible violation of this regulation, COM has a responsibility to end conduct that violates this regulation, prevent its recurrence, and address its discriminatory effects. To that end, college employees may not withhold any report of sexual violence, domestic violence, dating violence, or stalking. The college expects employees to treat information they learn concerning incidents of reported violations of this regulation with respect and with as much privacy as possible. College employees must share such information only with those college and law enforcement officials who must be informed of the information pursuant to this regulation.
Responsible employees shall report all alleged violations of this regulation to the Title IX Coordinators except a person who holds a professional license requiring confidentially and his employed in that capacity as noted in FFDA (Local). Other college employees have a duty to report sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking for federal statistical reporting purposes (i.e. Campus Police) as stated in GAC (Legal). Reports received by the college concerning the abuse of a minor shall be reported in compliance with state law and as specified in DHC (Legal) - Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting.
If the complainant requests that the complainant’s identity not be released to anyone else, the College’s ability to investigate and take reasonable action in response to a complaint may be limited. In such cases, the college shall evaluate the request(s) that a complaint remain confidential in the context of the College’s commitment to provide a reasonably safe and non-discriminatory environment in order to make such an evaluation, the Title IX Coordinators shall conduct a preliminary investigation into the alleged violation of this regulation and may weigh the request(s) against the following factors:
- the seriousness of the allegation(s);
- the complainant’s or alleged victim’s age;
- whether there have been other similar complaints against the same respondent;
- the respondent’s right to receive information about the allegations if the information is maintained by the college as an "education record" under FERPA; and
- the applicability of any laws mandating disclosure.
The college may pursue an investigation even if the complainant requests that no action be taken and the college will not be able to ensure confidentiality in all cases. The Title IX Coordinators shall notify the complainant in writing when it is determined that the college will be unable to maintain confidentiality or respect the complainant’s request for no further action.
In the event of an alleged incident of sexual violence that results in disclosure of information to a law enforcement agency and the Title IX Coordinators are aware of the disclosure, the Title IX Coordinators shall notify the alleged victim in writing that such disclosure is being made.
COM shall accept anonymous reports with the understanding that it may be limited in its ability to investigate and take reasonable action. The College must have sufficient information to conduct a meaningful and fair investigation. A respondent has a right to know the name of the complainant and information regarding the nature of the allegations in order to defend against the complaint.
The College, when requested and reasonably available or when deemed necessary, shall arrange for changes in academic or work arrangements after an alleged violation of this regulation. When such accommodations are provided, the College shall protect the privacy of the complainant to the extent possible while still providing the accommodation.