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New hires expand sexual assault policy staff

In response to recent Title IX scrutiny, policymakers aim for more inclusive, accountable dialogue

Four months after President Christina Paxson’s May 2 letter to the campus community announced plans to hire a Title IX coordinator, the University has officially begun the search to fill the position, with a Title IX Program Officer vacancy posted to the University’s Human Resources website Aug. 29.

Paxson pledged to increase resources for victims of sexual assault in response to campus-wide discourse over University policy last spring.

The University has already hired Marc Peters as the men’s health coordinator to engage men in conversations about sexual assault and to consider how men can participate in its prevention.

Administrators spent the summer assessing Title IX roles at peer institutions and preparing a position description for the Title IX coordinator, said Liza Cariaga-Lo, associate provost for academic development and diversity.

Cariaga-Lo said she and Russell Carey, executive vice president for planning and policy, spent time examining the Title IX program structures and investigative processes at roughly 12 peer institutions to determine the most effective practices.

The University hired three undergraduates ­— Yvonne Yu ’14.5, Justice Gaines ’16 and Adam Kemerer ’15 — to help review the University’s health materials over the summer and to help conduct the research on peer institutions, said Frances Mantak, director of health education.

Many of the peer institutions that Cariaga-Lo and Carey reviewed “were all kind of in the same boat, trying to reimagine and rethink,” Cariaga-Lo said, adding that many of these institutions were also assembling task forces to understand the current landscape of sexual assault on their campuses.

“We’ve had people who have been responsible for Title IX in different areas of the University,” said Margaret Klawunn, vice president for campus life and student services. “So our response to the actions on campus in the spring was to say, ‘No, we think we should be thinking about having somebody who is coordinating the efforts of each of us in our areas and making sure that we’re doing the best job we can with our obligations under the Title IX legislations.’”

Cariaga-Lo said the University hopes to appoint the Title IX program officer as soon as possible but that the job will remain open until the best person is found.

The new Title IX program officer will join Peters as part of the University’s expansion of its sexual assault education and prevention program.

Peters joined Brown from MenEngage, an alliance of nongovernmental organizations working to promote gender equality among men and boys. He is also a co-founder of MasculinityU, a coalition to engage men and boys in rethinking masculinity and gender violence.

The men’s health coordinator “is a prevention and education position, and hopefully someone who can help male students be more positive bystanders, create safer environments and also feel more comfortable seeking help,” Mantak said. “It’s definitely a best practice to start looking at men’s programming or how we can reach out to men.”

Peters said he views men as important participants in the movement to address and resolve campus sexual assault.

“If you approach men and say, ‘You’re the problem, you’re the ones committing sexual assault, you’re really this problem group on college campuses or in society,’ that’s a conversation stopper,” he said. “A lot of times, men have incredible societal privilege, so they can go through life up until college or past college never having thought about many of the issues that women think about,” he said.

“Part of the joy of getting to do a job like this is getting to try and reach those men and increase their awareness of their own privilege and of issues of gender equality.”

The Undergraduate Council of Students will also begin to recruit students for the Task Force on Sexual Assault, which is set to convene this fall. Carey and Michele Cyr, professor of medicine and associate dean for academic affairs at the Alpert Medical School, will chair the committee.



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