“Supportive Or Corrosive:” Can a University’s Title IX Website Design Impact Reporting of Sexual Violence? A Mixed Methods Design

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Licciardi, Bryanna
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Middle Tennessee State University
Title IX, a federal civil rights law outlawing gender-based discrimination in education, has become a turbulent political subject matter. During each of the past three presidential cabinets, policy surrounding Title IX has been rescinded and amended and amended again (Ali, 2011; Anderson, 2021; Lhamon, 2015; OCR, 2001). Multiple changes to policy, practice, and staffing jeopardize student trust in their institutions’ ability to safeguard them during times of trauma (Anderson, 2021). When a student is sexually victimized, a first anticipated stop is their institution’s Title IX website, where the student can safely explore supportive resources and next-step options, including ways to report the crime. Although studies have found that website innovation contributes significantly to students’ sense of trust in their universities, little research exists on the impact university Title IX websites can make on student victims’ sense of trust in the reporting process (Rezaeean et al., 2012). A mixed methods study was utilized to develop a novel instrument that measures a university’s Title IX website design based on student-centric elements derived from Title IX expert interviews and intersectional literature on trauma-informed, student-centered success, and technological accessibility approaches. After having established the instrument’s face and content validity, as well as interrater reliability, it was applied to a sample of university Title IX websites to compare scores to sex-related crime reports. Statistically significant positive and negative associations were found, suggesting that the student-centricity of a Title IX website has bearing on user responses. Implications of this study for institutions and future research are discussed.
Accessibility, Reporting rates, Sexual violence, Student-centric, Title IX, Website design, Secondary education, Web studies, Social sciences education