Kaitlyn Taylor of the 2022 cohort spent her summer in New Orleans participating in a remote internship with Tulane's Title IX Office. She sent us a synopsis of her experience and shared what she has learned during her internship:
"This summer, I have the pleasure of interning for the Title IX Office at Tulane University. Title IX is an excellent resource for students of all identities who need support handling discrimination that interferes with their educational experience. Here’s a brief background on Title IX legislation:
"Title IX is a federal civil rights law that is part of the Education Amendments of 1972. It was designed to prevent sex-based discrimination (that disproportionately affects girls and women) at institutions that receive federal funding. The scope of Title IX has expanded over time to include discrimination on the basis of gender and sexual orientation. Title IX aims to eliminate this type of discrimination by addressing inequality in key areas like access to higher education, athletics, education for pregnant and parenting students, employment, and sexual harassment.
"Most people are familiar with Title IX in the context of sexual harassment complaints. Sexual harassment is an umbrella term that encompasses gender-based harassment and sexual violence, such as sexual assault, intimate partner violence, and stalking.
"Under Title IX, institutions are legally required to respond to and resolve hostile educational environments. Otherwise, they risk losing funds from the federal government. The Office of Civil Rights, a subsect of the Department of Education, oversees Title IX compliance. Additionally, many colleges and universities employ a Title IX Coordinator to provide resources to students and to ensure that Title IX complaints are handled fairly if a conduct process occurs. For my internship, I work for Tulane’s lovely Title IX Coordinator, Meredith Smith, and our wonderful Title IX Program Manager, Julia Broussard.
"This summer, we have been tasked with several projects to research. First, we exported data from Tulane’s 2017 climate survey to look at specific trends in the sexual harassment data. We want to know the story that the data is telling us (and what it’s not telling us) so that we can create resources tailored to individual communities on campus. To further support this data, we will be researching literature on sexual assault support programs on college campuses that are specifically tailored to BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People Of Color) student communities. We want to ensure that every Tulane student feels comfortable using Title IX’s resources, and to do that, we are actively researching ways to build effective anti-racist support and response systems.
"Another important project we’ve been working on is policy research for our own office. On May 6th, 2020, the Department of Education released a revised set of Title IX regulations that schools must comply with by August 14th, 2020. Because of these changes, our Title IX Office has been very busy this summer trying to comb through the 2,000+ pages of new regulations in order to update Tulane’s Title IX policy.
"In particular, I have been conducting research on false sexual violence accusations. My work examines how false reporting has been used as a weapon of “gender warfare” against women who come forward with their experiences of sexual assault. A recent and notable example of this was the controversy over Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s appointment to the Supreme Court following Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony that alleged Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her in high school.
"It’s important to note that false reporting is exceedingly rare, and studies that cite false accusations as greater than ten percent of reports are inaccurate and often flawed. My research topic explores recent and rigorous academic studies on false reporting in which researchers independently look at crime reports and interview victims, police officers, and other individuals to determine how many cases likely meet the correct definition of false reporting. My findings show that the perceived credibility of the victim, cooperation with police, and the presence of a weapon are factors that the police consider when labeling a report as false. Through my research, I hope to highlight the inherent subjectivity of labeling a report as false, and to explain the use of false reporting as a problematic fallacy that prevents constructive dialogue about sexual assault.
"I applied to intern with Title IX because I am passionate about supporting and advocating for survivors of sexual violence. My involvement in the Tulane organization, Sexual Aggression Peer Hotline and Education (SAPHE), a 24/7 peer hotline for survivors of sexual assault, has inspired me to continue my advocacy.
"After I graduate from Tulane, I plan to attend law school and eventually build a career focused in gender and sex-based discrimination law and reproductive rights policy. I believe that interning with the Title IX Office has enriched my understanding of the federal policy on sex-based discrimination and has taught me how to efficiently use databases to enhance my research. I’m eager to keep learning throughout my internship, and look forward to writing a report about the harm caused by inaccurate data on false accusations. This opportunity has also given me the chance to become familiar with the new Title IX changes, and I hope to use this expertise to make Tulane a more supportive and equitable community.
"If you’re interested in learning more about Tulane’s updated Title IX policy, our Title IX Office will be releasing informational videos explaining the new policy in the fall, so be on the lookout!
"Finally, I’d like to express my sincere gratitude to the Altman Program for supporting my internship and inspiring me to pursue my passions."
Kaitlyn was a recipient of the Altman Program Summer Internship Award, an award that provides financial support for Altmans who participate in unpaid internships.