A new Title IX and civil rights investigator joins North Dakota State’s staff. Emily McGann started her position Oct. 2. She is also a deputy Title IX coordinator. She works with Heather Higgins-Dochtermann who is NDSU’s institutional equity investigator.
Title IX is a federal law that seeks to protect students from discrimination on college campuses based on gender. McGann is now the leader of ensuring the implementation of this on NDSU’s campus.
The two investigators work with the equity office, which encompasses any bias, discrimination or Title IX issues any faculty, staff or student feels on campus. Higgins-Dochtermann works with faculty and staff complaints while McGann focuses on student-based complaints. In other words, if it were alleged that a student has committed a violation the complaint would go to McGann, but if it’s alleged that an employee has committed a violation the complaint goes to Higgins-Dochtermann.
Their jobs are to be unbiased fact collectors when a case is brought forward. They wish to make the university a safe place for students, faculty and staff. Their job ensures that complaints are heard and investigated and the wrongs are righted to the best of their abilities.
While, before the internet and all the current technology, some cases came down to one word against another. Today, with so much technology and social media, there is often some trace of evidence for the investigators to draw from, McGann said.
It’s not that the investigators don’t believe or want to believe you. It’s simply easier to show what patterns or a timeline of events to have social media at their fingertips to draw from.
Both investigators have investigative backgrounds, and McGann has a law enforcement background. They are both ATIXA certified. ATIXA is the standard for Title IX training.
The addition of a Title IX investigator for students came with the reorganization as the office that formerly handled student complaints had a caseload that was too big which made McGann’s position necessary. The new structure became effective at the beginning of the fall semester.
McGann’s background with Title IX began in Bennington, Vermont where she was at a college that provided her with three years of ATIXA training. When that college reorganized, she lost the investigative portion of her position there and began searching for new opportunities involving Title IX investigation.
In general, Higgins-Dochtermann said it’s easier to train and offer information to students and because of the information and past training offered they have seen an increase in reports, questions and outreach to their office. Higgins-Dochtermann doesn’t want students to worry about whether they should be coming to them or if the action that happened warrants a trip to the Equity Office. “Even if we can’t follow through with a report of the event then we can at least point them in the right direction,” McGann said.
The ultimate goal of the equity office and both Higgins-Dochtermann and McGann’s position, and the equity office, is to prevent violation of policies that they try to enforce at NDSU.