Wilkes University

Title IX and Study Abroad

Title IX and Study Abroad

Wilkes University does not tolerate discriminatory conduct including sexual harassment and other sexual misconduct or violence such as sexual assault, intimate partner violence, stalking, sexual exploitation and coercion. Additionally, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (“Title IX”) prohibits discrimination based on sex in any educational programs, which includes sexual harassment and sexual violence.  Title IX requires the University, upon becoming aware of any incident of sexual misconduct to respond appropriately to protect and maintain the safety of the University community, including students, faculty and staff. 

Title IX is applicable to Wilkes University students (and employees) studying abroad or on a University sponsored international (or national) trip.  If you have experienced or wish to report sexual misconduct, including sexual assault, sexual harassment, intimate partner violence, or stalking, please contact the Title IX Coordinator or Deputy Title IX Coordinator who can assist in arranging resources, support, academic and protective measures, and discuss reporting options. 


Samantha Hart
Title IX Coordinator
Wilkes University
84 West South St.
Wilkes-Barre, PA  18766

Philip J. Ruthkosky, Ph.D.
Deputy Title IX Coordinator for Students
Associate Dean, Student Affairs/Student Development
Wilkes University
Passan Hall, 2nd Floor

While our response may vary depending on the travel program/location, we will endeavor to do everything we can to support students and employees while they are away – including, but not limited to:

  • Assistance in obtaining medical attention.
  • Assistance in reporting an incident (if desired) to the local law enforcement agency.
  • Assistance in filing a formal complaint under the University’s Sexual Misconduct Policy and Procedures.  If the respondent is a member of the Wilkes community, we can hold that person accountable through our Sexual Misconduct Policy and Procedures.  If the respondent is not a member of the Wilkes community, we will still provide support and resources to the reporting party.
  • Assistance in arranging to leave the travel program early (if desired).
  • Academic and personal support.

Reporting for Students:

If you are sexually assaulted while abroad:

  • Get to a safe place as soon as possible
  • Contact your Program Director/on-site staff or faculty member to assist in determining where and how to get medical attention
  • Seek medical attention
  • Preserve any evidence (paper bags are best)
  • Once a feeling of safety is achieved, make every effort to save anything that might contain the offender’s DNA, therefore a victim should not:
    • Bathe or shower
    • Use the restroom
    • Change clothes
    • Comb hair
    • Clean up the crime scene
    • Move anything the offender may have touched
  • After immediate concerns are alleviated, the program director will connect you to the Title IX Coordinator for the institution who will work with you to obtain additional resources. 

If something occurs that makes you feel uncomfortable or unsafe, talk to the program director who can assist in getting help.  You may also reach out to the Title IX Coordinator and/or Deputy Title IX Coordinator directly.    

The program director (faculty or staff) is designated as a “responsible employee” and therefore must report all incidents of sexual misconduct to the Title IX Coordinator.

If you would like to speak to a confidential campus counselor, you may call (570) 408-4730 during daytime hours or the confidential support line: (570) 408-CHAT [2428] anytime. 

In addition, Sexual Assault Support and Help for Americans Abroad (SASHAA) can provide support and resources. 

You can find more information about the University’s Sexual Misconduct process, including definitions of prohibited conduct here.

Reporting for Program Directors:

When a student in your study abroad program or international (or national) trip reports sexual harassment and/or sexual assault, responding promptly, compassionately, and supportively is imperative.  It is required by Title IX and the Campus SaVE Act -- but also aligns with Wilkes Universities core values of diversity, inclusion and safety. 

Wilkes University strives to effectively manage victim needs and promote student safety – and therefore requires Program Directors assistance in doing so.  To quickly provide support to a victim, Program Directors should:

  • Designate at least one staff or faculty member on-site to assist in responding to a report of sexual misconduct, especially when a victim will need to navigate medical care and police response where language may be a barrier.
  • Maintain a list of local resources, including sexual assault support resources and counseling/mental health providers to give to victims (consult with insurance carrier providing coverage prior to going abroad).
  • Consider technological access while abroad so that you can assist a victim in contacting University resources (Title IX Coordinator(s), Public Safety, Counseling Center).  It will be beneficial to know if there will be technical obstacles such as lack of phone or internet that may impede providing support.
  • Ensure the Program Director has contact information for the following:
    • Local Hospital
    • English-speaking physician if possible
    • Local Police
    • Local Victim Resource Center
    • Local Attorney if necessary

Conduct that violates the Sexual Misconduct Policy and Procedures will not be tolerated on study abroad trips.  Furthermore, employees still maintain their “responsible employee” status and therefore must report any incidents to the Title IX Coordinator as soon as possible.

Should something occur, your first step as the Program Director is to get the victim to a safe place and medical attention if necessary or requested. 

You should get in contact with the Title IX Coordinator as soon as you can thereafter so that the University can work on providing resources for the student.  A report abroad, will trigger the Sexual Misconduct Policy and Procedures and the Title IX Coordinator will work with others to provide a prompt, thorough, and fair response to stop the harassment, remedy it, and prevent recurrence.    

Tips - Be Aware:

Every community has different societal expectations. What is appropriate in one community may not be appropriate or expected in another community.  Learn about the location where you are traveling.  Some questions you might find answers to prior to traveling are as follows:

  • What is it like in the host community?
  • How are students assimilated into the host community?
  • What are the safety concerns and how does the organization mitigate those risks?
  • What are the stereotypes of Americans in my host community?
  • How do gender roles differ in the host community?
  • What are the cultural/expected norms for gender?
  • Are there expected ways for an individual to talk with, approach, or act towards each other based upon gender, race, or other characteristic?
  • What are the living, learning, and transportation arrangements?
  • What are the local laws I should be aware of?
  • What are the rules of the host institution?

This is a great resource to help you get a better understanding of the culture of your destination.

Safety Tips:

Wilkes values providing a safe, inclusive, and respectful study abroad experience for our students.  Your personal safety is as important while studying abroad as it is at home or on campus.  The following is a short list of tips regarding safety while abroad:

  • Your personal safety is paramount.
  • Maintain a key awareness of your surroundings.
  • Dress in a culturally appropriate way.
  • Travel in groups.
  • Don’t walk home alone.
  • Know local emergency phone numbers.
  • Know your program’s emergencies numbers.
  • Locate the nearest US embassies and/or consulates before you reach your host community.
  • Be aware of local customs (e.g. where and when eye contact is acceptable).
  • Tell someone where you are going, when you plan to return, and what to do if you do not return on time.


Title IX Coordinator
Samantha Hart – samantha.hart@wilkes.edu; 570-408-3842 

Deputy Title IX Coordinator for Students
Philip Ruthkosky - philip.ruthkosky@wilkes.edu; 570-408-4108 

Counseling Services
www.wilkes.edu/CounselingServices; (570) 408-4730
after hours hotline: (570) 408-CHAT [2428]

Campus Public Safety - (570) 408-4999

Anonymous reports of gender-based discrimination may be submitted by clicking here.

Additional Resources- (Non-Affiliated):

The following information provides resources not affiliated with Wilkes University.

Program Directors:

All faculty and staff (except those working in the Health and Wellness Service Center) are “responsible employees” and must report incidents of sexual misconduct they become aware of at home and while abroad.