Students involved with for-credit internships who experience sexual harassment, sexual violence and any form of discrimination and stalking or other Title IX violations should consult with the Office Of Institutional Equity, Title IX coordinator at the University of Connecticut, Elizabeth Conklin said.
“Even if we’re not the one who are the employer of the person they’re concerned about they can still get help from my office,” Conklin said. “Students carry their civil rights with them into their internship sites.”
Title IX states, “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” according to the United States Board of Education.
Conklin described Title IX to be about complaints that are and relate to sex-based discrimination or harassment.
“That can be things like one sex being treated better than another or sexual harassment… a hostile work environment where there’s a lot of jokes or unwanted comments of a sexual nature,” Conklin said.
Involvement of the internship site with handling complaints is all up to the student, Conklin said.
“We first sit down with a student to see what was happening and to see what they would like to see happen,” Conklin said.
If action is taken at the internship site, students are directed to go to the Office Of Human Resources at the internship site to file a complaint, Conklin said. The choice to take action is in the hands of the student.
However, even if the student doesn’t want to take action, they can still talk to someone in the Office of Institutional Equity, Conklin said.
“We can offer support or advice, or link them with resources for more support,” Conklin said. “We want people who come to us to have some choice.”
The Office Of Institutional Equity keeps an active record of all internship sites and any possible complaints, Conklin said.
“One of the first things we do anytime anybody comes forward is to review the history we have,” Conklin said.
UConn would terminate ties with any company that has shown repeated complaints from an internship company, but this issue has not come up yet, Conklin said. Though she was unable to reveal specifics on her cases, Conklin confirmed that consequences have been administered to company employees accused of violating Title IX. If the situation is serious enough, employment termination is included.
Besides the Office of Institutional Equity, there are many other resources available to students, Conklin said.
“The Dean of Students Office is a great place for students to start if they don’t know where to go,” Conklin said. “The Women’s Center is another great resource to talk to options… UConn Police … and certainly Counseling and Mental Health Services for a confidential resource.”
If there is an issue in an internship that crosses more than one identity, such as race, gender or sexual orientation, it is something important to take notice of, Conklin said.
“With the intersectionality of these types of scenarios, the Cultural Centers would be a safe place to start to think about how to work these things through,” Conklin said.
Preparing adults to deal with Title IX complaints are a huge part of UConn’s strength in dealing with Title IX cases, Conklin said.
“We do a lot of work with repeat training and conversations and advanced level training to help us to support students and work through these scenarios,” Conklin said.
Generally the internship companies UConn does work with have good reputations. There are approximately only four to six complaints or questions a year, Conklin said.
“We have really good success in working directly with our students and also the company in making sure our students are safe and the company takes our work seriously,” Conklin said.
Naiela Suleiman is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.