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Update from the Title IX Office - September 28th, 2018

Dear members of the Swarthmore community,

I hope you all have had a productive first few weeks of the academic year. Prior to the start of this semester, President Smith and I sent out a community message introducing me as the new Title IX Coordinator and mentioning that I would  send out periodic updates on the evolving work around Title IX at Swarthmore.

I began at the College in July and have been very fortunate to connect with a number of faculty, staff, and students in my first two months. One overarching theme that will influence my work this year is communication. I hope to provide clear, helpful information to the campus about the Title IX process  at Swarthmore and to address concerns as they arise. I will also actively solicit feedback from all campus constituents to ensure that the Title IX process is as transparent and inclusive as possible.

Personnel Changes

  • New deputy Title IX coordinators - Professor of English Literature Nora Johnson and Isaiah Thomas, director of residential communities, have been appointed the deputy for faculty and deputy for students, respectively. In their new roles, they are able to receive Title IX reports and provide appropriate resources and options to the reporting party.  Please note the complete list of  Title IX deputies and their contact information.

  • Case manager for respondents - Michelle D. Ray has returned to her role as the case manager for student respondents involved in the Title IX complaint process. To be clear, she will only be involved as a case manager in new cases, not in any matter that arose while she served as the interim Title IX coordinator. Also, students participating in the Title IX process always have the option to request a different case manager to assist them in the process if needed.

  • Title IX project manager - we are currently in a search for a Title IX project manager. The person in this position will increase the capacity for ongoing, data-driven prevention programming, provide logistical support for Title IX cases, and act in a new role as the witness coordinator (a role described in more detail in the policy and procedures updates).

  • Interim Title IX coordinator - later this fall I will be taking parental leave, which will require the appointment of an interim Title IX coordinator for a few weeks. We are diligently working on identifying a qualified, experienced person to fill this temporary role and will share the news of their appointment with the campus community as soon as possible. It is my priority that my leave will not create any gap in service to our community.

  • Title IX investigator - this fall, we will use external investigators for Title IX complaints. With the confluence of my parental leave and the two searches I’ve described, we felt that postponing a search for a new Title IX investigator will allow us to be more intentional about identifying a successful candidate who could best serve in this important role.

Policy and Procedures Updates

Ongoing Work

  • Title IX Transition Team - the team, comprised of faculty, staff, and students, will be focused on assessing how transformative justice practices can be incorporated into our existing Title IX practices. The team will share updates on their work throughout the year.

  • Some early feedback that I have received from students included a desire to receive direct information from the Title IX coordinator about what consent is, what happens once a report is received, the obligations of responsible employees, and clarity around what the Title IX complaint process entails. This information has been incorporated into existing educational opportunities such as first-year orientation, residential peer leader training, and conversations with new chairs and new faculty and staff members.

  • Title IX guides - another priority for the Title IX office is to increase the awareness of the breadth of Title IX. To address this, we will produce Title IX guides on a variety of topics to help community members understand their rights and obligations. Guides will cover such topics as responsible employee obligations, Title IX and supporting the transgender community, addressing barriers to reporting for the LGBTQ+ community, and the rights of pregnant or parenting students.

  • Exploring external partnerships - in order to provide expanded resources to the Swarthmore community, we are actively exploring the formalization of relationships the College has with neighboring colleges and organizations that provide services for survivors of sexual violence. These formalized relationships are intended to clarify the options available to Swarthmore students, provide additional choices for resources, and remove barriers to accessing off-campus services.

Though I expect to share periodic email updates with the campus community throughout the year, for more timely information I encourage you to explore the Office of the Title IX Coordinator website and the SHARE website.  These sites will be updated with information about ongoing Title IX initiatives, training received by Title IX team members, information about the transition team's work, additional resources for survivors, and information about Title IX rights and obligations.

Lastly, I believe I would be remiss in not acknowledging the national dialogue around sexual violence playing out in Washington, D.C. and in conversations around our community. Listening to or reading about accounts of sexual assault can have a substantial effect on survivors of sexual violence, so I would like to encourage any of our community members who need support on- or off-campus to utilize the options provided on the SHARE website or by contacting a national organization like RAINN. If anyone needs assistance in accessing these resources, please let me know.

Please do not hesitate to reach out to me to share any feedback you may have. My door is open.