At the University of Maryland, the Student Government Association has approved a mandatory $34 fee for students to help fund the Title IX office of the university, BuzzFeed News reports.
Title IX offices, federally mandated by the Obama administration, were created to combat, investigate and address sexual assault on college campuses. However, the administration doesn't tell the universities how to run or structure their Title IX offices, or how much to funding they should get. However, an independent Title IX director told BuzzFeed the fee is highly unusual.
According to Cosmopolitan, Title IX offices are instructed to investigate sexual assault claims within 60 days. But with the rising number of sexual assault claims on their campus and a small staff, UMD has a big backlog and takes an average of 140 days to investigate. Catherine Carroll, the Title IX director of the campus, told BuzzFeed, "My people are burned out." The office is two years old and has received an increase in funding since last year, but was put in jeopardy due to the volume of sexual assault claims it has received.
The Student Government Association of the university expressed dismay that students would have to pick up the tab for the office due to lack of funding, but wanted to do what they could to fully fund a crucial service on campus. Colleges and universities are under intense scruntiny to handle sexual assault cases more seriously, according to the New York Daily News. Title IX offices are supposed to ease tensions and properly handle these cases. Unfortunately, there are still cases that slip under the cracks and that's the problem UMD is trying to combat by raising funding.
The fee will raise funds for the office from $1 million to nearly $2 million per year if the fee is approved. Carroll has said the fee will help pay for the two new investigators, a rape prevention manager and a deputy for Carroll.
According to the independent student newspaper, The Diamondback, the fee will take effect next year if it is approved by the proper officials, including the Committee for Review of Student Fees, the university president and the Board of Regents.
The university told BuzzFeed that it supports the new fee, especially with the backing of the students.