Students frustrated with Title IX assault case handling

Losing cases, lack of response, inadequate support…

by Angel Barker

Cal Poly Humboldt’s students, organizations, and community are unhappy with the Title IX office as well as President Tom Jackson after recent speeches and handling of cases.

Title IX is the law adopted in 1972 that stipulates, “no person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any educational program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.” (From Cal Poly Humboldt’s Title IX & Discrimination, Harassment, & Retaliation Prevention website). Title IX is also intended to protect students against sexual misconduct including harassment and assault.

Female student Jane Doe (whose name has been changed for privacy reasons) reported an assault to Humboldt’s Title IX office in June. It is now September, and from her perspective, not much has been done. At one point in the summer, her case was lost.

“This whole summer I went through without having responses,” Doe said. “I get there are multiple things they have to deal with, but how do you tell a victim…that you flat out lost her case [and message thread],” referencing an email she received from David Hickcox apologizing for the delayed response.  Hickcox is the Coordinator of the Cal Poly Humboldt Title IX office.

Doe says due to rumors surrounding the university’s handling of Title IX reports, she did not want to file a report.

“I didn’t want to go in the first place because I had heard of people putting multiple complaints in and nothing being done,” Doe said. “So I went in with [the mindset of] ‘we’ll see where it goes’.”

The Title IX office told her they could do two things for her. First, she could get the support she might need, like withdrawing from classes, and having them monitor her academic progress. The other option was to go through a formal reporting process that leads to a thorough investigation of everything that happened. This choice could have led to getting her assailant expelled from campus, through the Student Conduct office. Doe chose the support option.

“They didn’t make me comfortable to come clean about everything so I took the safer route,” Doe said. “I chose that one because I don’t want him to know what I have against him. That kind of defeats the purpose of having a Title IX.” Doe was told that if she took the investigation route, her assailant would be made aware of her accusation.

Doe was assaulted in a campus housing dorm room, and now she doesn’t feel safe on campus. “I get a sinking feeling in my stomach. I see him everywhere,” Doe said.

Students also feel like the Title IX office is not timely enough and that the process takes too long.

“I think it just takes way too long for students to get the help they need,” said Iman Jackson, a senior who was sexually assaulted at an off-campus party. 

“It is just a long process,” Jackson said. “Maybe if they warned people that it is a long process it might be better, but if you can’t do it in a timely manner, at least have a plan.”

Jackson does not think that the process is meaningful enough. “I feel like they kind of fall short in regards to helping men who have been sexually assualted or harrassed,” he said. “I feel like if they want to change the rhetoric of being supportive and inclusive to all, I think they probably change how their procedure goes.”

Students have taken to social media to express grievances against the Title IX reporting process. Student commenter Lexi Holloman commented on a Humboldt Poly Confessions Instagram post that her report was lost and that she had to file more than once.

“I contacted Title IX and they said they have been handling the reports of [assailant’s name] in the ways that they can, and so I made another report because they didn’t even have my original report,” Holloman commented.

When asked to respond to student accusations of lost cases and lack of response, Hickcox said that he was unaware of any lost cases but “encourages them to contact [his] office.”

In response to feedback on social media, Hickcox said, “I’m aware of the [Humboldt Confessions page] and there is this perception that we do nothing.”

“I looked at Humboldt Confessions today and I can tell you what I saw on there today is not an accurate representation of what Title IX is doing,” Hickcox said. “It makes Title IX’s job a lot harder when people don’t believe in the process.”

Recently, President Jackson implied in a speech that it would be better to keep Title IX reports out of the media.

“I hate being in the news, because we have so many positive things happening on our campus,” Jackson said. He also stated that the Title IX process is designed to resolve cases “behind the doors in a meaningful amicable way.”

This speech damaged Doe’s opinion on the president and campus’ Title IX handling.

“I was offended. Although I had no say in the media aspect of my assaulter, it made me shy away from going to the office and tainted my self esteem walking into my appointment,” Doe said. 

Hickcox views the President’s remarks differently.

“I understand that people are upset because they are inferring that he is saying to not report to Title IX,” Hickcox said. “I think the President is expressing frustration that when sensitive confidential Title IX details get into the media that it lowers the credibility of the process.”

Students and student organizations like Students for Quality Education are calling on the university to take responsibility and make a better Title IX process. The following is a comment from Students for Quality Education.

“We as Students for Quality Education denounce the words and actions done by President Jackson. He has furthered harm toward victims and survivors on campus and is an active perpetuator of rape culture. As the leader of a public university you’d expect his comments to be more in line with 2022 rather than the 1950s and you cannot expect systems and institutions of oppression to be fixed by whispers and behind closed doors. It took little to no courage for a man in power to say such things about victims and survivors as if we are still in the past. Secrets do not fix harm. President Jackson has failed to protect students, staff and faculty. Cal Poly Humboldt and the CSU as a whole needs to reform Title IX and continue to support and build on programs focused on supporting and bringing justice for victims and survivors rather than protecting a public image and defending institutions of harm.”

Share This Post

More Stories

Nina G uses comedy to start conversations

During the virtual comedy event held by the SDRC, Nina Ghiselli tells her story and emphasizes the importance of student disability resources within schools.

It’s not just the Capitol Police

As the world watched from their televisions on January 6, we witnessed scenes unfold before our eyes that were, to many, unimaginable: supporters of President Trump swarmed the steps of the U.S. Capitol Building, then proceeded to break in and

The San Jose State University Football Team Comes to Humboldt

On a day’s notice from administration, the SJSU football team spends a week and a half in Humboldt practicing because their county did not allow it. Students react to their presence on campus in the midst of a pandemic. Directed

Homelessness in Humboldt, CA

This is the first trailer of a homeless documentary created by HSU students. We have spent months filming and will continue to film throughout the next year. Follow the heartbreaking stories of the homeless community around Humboldt county and the

Thrifty Arcata

Taking a tour of the local thrift shops in Arcata during the COVID-19 pandemic. Directed and produced by Skylar Gaven.

House Plants Generate Peace and Meaning During the Pandemic

Three different people with the same love for plants! House plants have become quite popular these days especially since we’re all basically stuck inside during the pandemic. Not only are they aesthetically pleasing, but these beautiful green oxygen-makers provide more

Prop 22 represents political favoritism of money over workers’ rights

California’s passing of proposition 22 on Nov. 5 represents a frustrating history of workers’ rights being trampled by the overwhelming influence of greed in politics.  This proposition forces app-based workers to be classified as independent contractors, rather than employees. This

Remembering Evelyn Andrews 10 months after her passing

By Katelyn Dendas It has been 10 months since my friend, teammate and freshman year dorm mate, Evelyn Andrews, passed away. I don’t remember what the grief counselor said or what transpired after that Monday, but I do remember arriving

Protestors seek to defund HSUPD

Two local, activist organizations work together to stage a sit-in against Humboldt State’s police department.

Getting stuck on the Trump train

Writer Anthony Aragon details his experience of accidentally joining a pro-Trump car rally.

Justin Turner exposes the World Series to COVID-19

Justin Turner didn’t need to be the story in the wake of the Dodgers’ first World Series victory in 32 years. Instead here we are, wondering what sort of, if any, punishment Major League Baseball will decide to hand down

Four more years of fear

News Editor Carlos Holguin explains why he is worried about the next four years.

Dismal democracy

The Lumberjack editorial staff comments on America’s flawed electoral system As the world watches the United States 2020 election results, waiting for our pseudodemocratic process to churn out a new president, historically unprecedented voting methods misrepresents the reported Election Day

The Mario triple pack invokes a nostalgia attack

When I was a child, the first video game system I owned was a Nintendo 64. Among the games I played was Super Mario 64. I played it all the time and when I wasn’t playing it, I was lying

Women’s lacrosse drops their competitive season

Greta Roberts, president and player of Humboldt State University’s women’s lacrosse team, made the decision with her coach and teammates to cancel the upcoming spring season. The team decided that not being able to recruit in the fall would be

Dobby’s proposition opinions

Haven’t voted yet? Well, you’re running out of time. Here’s a quick rundown of California’s propositions on the ballot this year

Corporations buy out propositions

In a series of general and misleading advertisements, corporate backers of Propositions 22 and 23 show their grubby hands

CDOR continues virtually

The Campus and Community Dialogue On Race returns covering global justice for Black Lives.

Indigenous Food Sovereignty

Local food management practices of the Tolowa Dee-ni, Yurok and other indigenous peoples.

Humboldt State Admin attempts to discredit the Lumberjack

***A Lumberjack editorial represents both the majority opinion of the student newspaper’s editorial board, nine editors, as well as the overwhelming majority of Humboldt State University’s student body. Collectively, an editorial echos, embodies and advocates for community beliefs.*** Insensitive communications

Music of the Moment 6

21 Savage and Metro Boomin drop a classic with “Savage Mode II”

Spartans arrive at HSU despite campus concerns

***Editor’s note: SJSU football program was tested in congruence with Mountain West conference guidelines*** The Spartans have arrived and this time they’re not carrying spears or shields. Instead the San Jose State football team stepped onto the Humboldt State campus

Music of the Moment 5

After shooting Megan Thee Stallion, Tory Lanez cancels himself

Welcome to the Twilight Zone

Comparisons between episodes of the classic TV show The Twilight Zone and our own dismal reality

Music of the Moment 4

YoungBoy Never Broke Again dodges the sophomore slump with his new album “Top.”

Self-Care Cuts

Changing your hair to change your life

HSU Seaweed Farm sets sail

The first commercially-approved seaweed farm in California will be on the map.

Music of the Moment 3

For better or worse, Big Sean is likely gone for good.

More Layers, More Protection?

Humboldt State demands double masking on campus, does more layers equal more protection?

The Ethnic Studies Bill is a Blessing

Ethnic Studies will thankfully become mandatory for all California State University students – as it should be.

The Complex Interface of Humans and Wildfires

How fire suppression is a mixed bag in Humboldt County Every fire season, blankets of smoke roll over Humboldt County. Here on the coast, that’s as close to wildfires as some of us get. But our practice of fire suppression

Defund HSU’s Police Department

Incidents of racism from the former UPD Chief, past examples of excessive force from current officers and a shrinking university budget.

How Not To Be Bitten By A Kitten

Please prepare to be prey Congratulations, a baby feline has recently come into your life. If they’re anywhere from 2-18 months, they bite. They see you as prey. Because you are prey. You always have been. You always will be.

Graduating Into Uncharted Waters

HSU graduates attempt to navigate a world turned upside-down by COVID-19 In May, Humboldt State University graduated hundreds of students, as it does every year. Unlike past years, graduates didn’t get to shake hands with their respective dean and receive

HSU Cultural Center Budget Slashed

Associated Students leaves student body devastated after significant reductions in cultural center’s budget.

All aboard the plague ship

Unprecedented times are met with normalized behavior, HSU puts students and community members at higher risk after reopening campus and student housing.

Music of the Moment

The hip-hop community rallies behind the Black Lives Matter Movement

Inside the Immune System

How the body uses multiple levels of defense against foreign intruders

Catcalling Can’t Continue

Verbal harassment toward women is about control and the assertion of gender discrimination

Major League Marijuana

Why I don’t think marijuana is everything it’s cracked up to be in baseball

Pigs Compost on Campus

CCAT tries to reduce HSU’s food waste footprint through new pig program