Colleen Heimstead, Senior Associate Athletic Director — Senior Woman Administrator, and Deputy Title IX Coordinator for NDSU Athletics spoke on the significance of educating staff, athletes, and coaches during Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
At NDSU, Heimstead oversees all aspects of NCAA, conference and institutional compliance. She collaborates with school departments including Student Financial Services, Admissions, Registration & Records and Athletic Academic Advising to guarantee NCAA compliance for 16 sports and 400 student-athletes.
The United States Congress enacted Title IX of the Education Amendments on June 23, 1972, and it was signed into law on July 1, 1972. It was just revised, and it went into effect on August 14, 2020. The federal civil rights statute Title IX outlaws sex discrimination in educational programs and activities. This June will mark the 50th anniversary of the law.
According to a new policy set in 2017 by the NCAA, the school president or chancellor, sports director and Title IX coordinator on each NCAA college must certify yearly that coaches, athletics administrators and student-athletes have received sexual violence prevention training.
When it comes to athletics, Title IX has shifted its focus from scholarship money to treatment quality and safety from sexual abuse. With this shift in focus, a complete examination of university leadership has never been more important.
“We try our best to do the right things here in athletics,” said Heimstead. “We offer training and resources for our staff, student-athletes and coaches.”
The Athletic Department works with NDSU services to prevent sexual violence on campus, and they encourage their student-athletes to participate and be advocates in activities or any organizations that they may be a part of throughout campus.
Staff, student-athletes and coaches all get yearly training from the sports department. They receive training in the fall that covers a wide range of topics. They work with Campus and the resources that they offer, such as bystander training, alcohol and drug misuse, safety awareness and more. They continue to educate the players and keep the dialogue going throughout the year by holding presentations on various topics.
“We give them as much information and resources they can and educate them on what they need to know,” said Heimstead. “Even on the flip side, God forbid, but if something were to happen to them, that they know where to go and contact and encouraging them if they aren’t being treated right,” continued Heimstead. “So, at the same time, we are trying to educate them on being advocates but are also making sure they are safe. We are constantly reminding them to do the right thing and being supportive, with not just our athletes but everyone on campus,” she said. “Our student-athletes being recognizable, but we try and encourage them to be a positive impact and be a part of the growth.”