A month after its due date, 84 percent of College students have completed the Title IX Office’s annual compulsory training module, according to University Title IX Coordinator Nicole M. Merhill.
In 2018 and 2019, the College only permitted students who had completed the module to enroll in fall courses. This year, administrators gave students a grace period before noncompletion affected their ability to select classes, tying the module to spring — rather than fall — registration. The module aims to educate undergraduates about the University’s Title IX sexual harassment and misconduct policies, procedures, and resources.
Merhill wrote in an emailed statement that her office rolled out the module later than usual to address updated federal and University-wide Title IX rules and to allow “flexibility for completion” during the remote semester. In August, the University released two interim policies in compliance with new federal Title IX regulations issued in early May by the U.S. Department of Education. The federal regulations narrowed the definition of sexual misconduct and mandated that schools hold live hearings in the grievance process.
“It was important to the Title IX Office to ensure those policies were addressed in this year's eLearning module,” Merhill wrote. “Additionally, considering the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and the move to remote learning for many Harvard students, flexibility for completion, with a much longer timeline than in previous years, seemed valuable with the many unknowns students faced.”
On Sept. 2, College Title IX Coordinators Brian Libby and Erin E. Clark first notified enrolled undergraduates to complete the training module by the end of the month. Those who failed to complete the module by that deadline received a reminder to do so by Oct. 13.
After the October deadline passed, the Title IX office shared the names of students who had yet to complete the training with their resident deans, who sent out another round of reminder emails. Merhill wrote that involving the resident deans was “consistent with past practices.”
In some of these notifications from resident deans, students were asked to complete the module “as soon as possible.” Adams House Resident Dean Charles E. Lockwood asked residents of his house to complete the module by Oct. 30.
“Students who do not complete the module by that time run the risk of having a hold placed on their account for spring term course registration,” Lockwood wrote in the email.
“The Title IX training is crucial so that we all have a shared understanding of the College's resources and policies, and so that we can all do our part to make Harvard a community free of sexual harassment and misconduct,” he added.
While it is unclear whether Harvard will grant students who continue to hold off on tackling the online training further extensions, Merhill wrote that her office will provide them “case-by-case” support.
“We are working with students on a case-by-case basis to support those students who have yet to complete the module,” she wrote.
—Staff writer Alex M. Koller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.