Toledo Blade: University of Toledo should process Title IX complaints faster

The University of Toledo must do better processing Title IX complaints. It’s not about winning or losing a court case. It’s about doing the right thing. It’s also about protecting the integrity and reputation of the university.

Investigations should move swiftly to avoid the appearance, or reality, that Title IX charges aren’t an important matter at UT.

Title IX prohibits universities from discriminating against individuals based on gender or sex.

The U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals earlier this week reinstated a complaint by a student over sexual harassment by a professor. The complaint should never have had to end up in federal court. It was mishandled from the beginning.

A long gap existed between the initial reports of sexual harassment and any action by UT officials. It wasn’t just the student, a professor also supported her report. There was no response to that complaint for six months, court records allege. If correct, that is unacceptable.

It was only after a further complaint by another faculty member that things started moving. Those professors did the right thing — moving to protect students.

The accused professor, Erik Tyger, was placed on administrative leave and booted off campus Nov. 27, 2018. He was later fired.

That should have happened months earlier. His case is in arbitration.

Students need to feel safe on campus — safe from predatory professors and safe from predatory students.

Professors and staff also need protection. That’s one of the reasons Title IX exists. Yet Title IX does little good with lackadaisical enforcement.

The university, of course, didn’t want to comment on a matter still in litigation. A statement from the university after the appellate ruling said “the safety of our students is a top priority, and we strive to ensure UToledo is a safe and welcoming environment.” While that may be true, the school must do a better job of living that pledge.

Universities have an obligation to protect students from harassment. UT must devote more staff and resources to Title IX enforcement so these sort of failures here don’t occur again.

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