Data collected over the past 30+ years consistently show one in five women are sexually assaulted on college campuses (Mccauley & Casler, 2015), and that the occurrence may be even higher due to serious underreporting on campuses (Palmer & Alda, 2016). To better combat sexual assault on campus, universities are charged through federal law and policy (i.e., Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972) to create systems for the prevention, education, investigation, and adjudication of sexual misconduct. While these policies resulted in significant advances, the continuing rates of sexual assault on college campuses demonstrate that policy alone is not enough. One issue of a policy-focused approach is the focus on individual complainants as opposed to addressing the greater campus culture and climate. According to feminist theory, to solve a complex issue (like sexual assault), institutions must examine the systems that permit oppression to exist on our campuses (Ahmed, 2012). Feminist theory suggests that approaches to sexual assault focused on addressing the entire campus community may have better outcomes for decreasing occurrence of sexual assault while dismantling oppressive systems, such as rape culture, that have historically prevented progress on this issue. This study, using a feminist phenomenological approach (Gardiner, 2017), looked to campus administrators who enact Title IX on their campus to gain a deepened understanding of how college practitioners approach Title IX work. The study had 13 college administrators participate, representing institutions across the U.S. to uncover: How do those responsible for enacting Title IX understand their work as an effort to dismantle rape culture on university campuses? The overarching goal of the study was to identify methods of supporting college administrators in shifting from compliance-focused approaches to more holistic, preventative, culture-focused efforts. What was uncovered was that college campuses are locked within a compliance frame, limiting any potential progress for dismantling campus rape culture and declining rates of campus sexual assault. The study found to break this cycle, college administrators must not move quickly to action, but must focus first on the process of learning, unlearning, and relearning (Tlostanova & Mignolo, 2012). Promising practices for practitioners, policymakers, and further areas for research are also discussed.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. May 2019. Major: Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development. Advisor: Karen Miksch. 1 computer file (PDF); x, 192 pages.
Going Beyond Compliance to Dismantling Rape Culture: A Feminist Phenomenological Study of Title IX Administrators.
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