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New University office to oversee federal compliance, investigations

Compliance functions moved from OIED amidst ongoing investigations, campus climate concerns

The Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity will continue to oversee employment-based affirmative action and bias incident reports, according to the Jan. 31 announcement.
The Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity will continue to oversee employment-based affirmative action and bias incident reports, according to the Jan. 31 announcement.

The University’s compliance and federal investigatory operations have been moved from the Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity to the newly-created Office of Equity Compliance and Reporting under the Division of Campus Life, according to a Jan. 31 Today@Brown announcement by President Christina Paxson P’19 P’MD’20.

The transition is effective Thursday, according to Vice President for Campus Life Eric Estes, who will oversee the OECR. The office will inherit oversight of Title IV, VII and IX, along with the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 from OIED. Collectively, these laws address discrimination, harassment, sexual misconduct and accessibility accommodations. Staff involved with compliance will also move to the OECR.

OIED will continue to manage bias incident reports and employment-based affirmative action, but will refer reports “that may require further investigation” to Campus Life, according to the announcement.

The transition comes amid 14 pending investigations into the University by the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights. Of these investigations, three were opened last month — one pertaining to an alleged Title VI violation, and the two others on alleged disability-based discrimination and retaliation.


Estes added that the office transition will not affect ways the University processes information requests related to federal investigations.

“In the event the University receives requests for information from regulatory and investigative agencies, Brown’s Office of General Counsel coordinates the University’s response,” Estes wrote. “That will remain the case moving forward, even as we have reorganized the ways in which various administrative units work together on campus to address reports of bias, discrimination and harassment.”

Currently, the Division of Campus Life oversees multiple front-facing centers, offices and programs, including Counseling and Psychological Services, Residential Life and Student Accessibility Services.

“We have a streamlined approach, and that’s going to make it easier — not only for students, but also for faculty, staff and anyone who wants to make a complaint,” said Sylvia Carey-Butler, vice president for institutional equity and diversity, in an interview with The Herald. “We don’t want anything to fall through the cracks.” 

In the announcement, Paxson stressed the importance of “maintaining a diverse and inclusive community and strengthening our responses to incidents of bias, harassment and discrimination” as part of the decision to form the new office.

In providing additional context for the decision, Paxson cited the Supreme Court’s 2023 decision that declared race-conscious admissions unconstitutional as well as “concerns over campus climate” related to the ongoing Israel-Palestine war.

At a Dec. 5 faculty meeting, Paxson also said the University will determine whether it needs to “enhance” its Title VI policies, The Herald previously reported.

For internal investigations and complaints, the new office will combine aspects of the investigative process into one unit and provide closer connection between incident report and incident management services on campus, according to the announcement.

As part of the updates, the University also created a new complaint submission process — featured on the incident report site — that will no longer require complainants to self-determine the categorization of an alleged incident.

Paxson also wrote in the announcement that both OIED and OECR have collaborated “to ensure a seamless transition for individuals with pending cases.”


Samantha Chambers

Samantha is a University News editor who oversees the Affinity & Activism beat. She is a sophomore from Tampa, Florida concentrating in Sociology. In her free time, Samantha likes to cook and watch Survivor.


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