Search for Educational Equity Coordinator ensues, position will expand Title IX coordinator’s role

The search for the new Educational Equity Coordinator is currently underway, a new role that expands the role of former Title IX Coordinator Amy O’Neill to include other forms of discrimination.

The Educational Equity Coordinator will work with Dean of Equity and Inclusion Chris Hunt to cover all cases of discrimination, including racism, that previously were not directed to the Title IX Coordinator.

While O’Neill worked on sex and gender discrimination cases exclusively, the new role “[has] primary responsibility for leading the institutional coordination of educational programs and policies to prevent inequity in education,” according to the Lafayette Human Resources job posting.

Annette Diorio explained the decision to expand the role of the position in order to assist in prevention of discrimination due to more than just gender and sex, but also race, color, disability and other factors.

“Title IX, as it relates to gender discrimination, is a portion of the work the person will do but we also expect the person who holds this position to resolve other concerns, particularly those raised by students, related to other forms of discrimination,” Diorio wrote in an email.

Reeve Lanigan ’19, a member of the search committee, says that they are searching for a candidate who is both programming-oriented and someone students can come to as a counselor.

While Lanigan acknowledged the expansion of the role may concern some students who relied on O’Neill exclusively for gender and sex discrimination concerns, she said she is hopeful that expanding the role will be beneficial.

“I can see the concern of it being too much to handle but at the same time I really think there are other parts of discrimination on campus that people were not as knowledgeable about and didn’t get as much help or resources as they needed…I feel like having this new position, people will feel like they can report those issues beyond the gender discrimination,” Lanigan said.

One candidate visited campus during the first week of classes in August. Another candidate, Emily Ralph, visited campus Sunday into Monday and met with faculty, staff, and students. Monday, she made a presentation that was open to any interested faculty member or student.

Tuesday night, Hunt collected committee feedback on Ralph’s visit. As of Wednesday, he had not yet read their feedback, but noted that the hiring process is not over.

This position comes at a time when gender and sex discrimination have been topics of national interest, as Education Secretary Betsey DeVos announced that her office will be reviewing Obama-era guidelines regarding sexual assault on college campuses. According to CNN, she’s received pushback from advocates for victims of sexual abuse who argue that the Trump administration is harming their rights.

President Alison Byerly said she doesn’t anticipate DeVos’ actions to affect Lafayette’s current sexual assault reporting processes or the hiring of the Educational Equity Coordinator.

“We feel that our current process is actually very fair to both to complainant and students who may be accused of sexual assault,” she said. “We feel that we have worked hard to devise a process that gives sexual assault survivors many opportunities to come forward though a variety of routes, some of which include through the judicial process and we feel that the judicial process, when invoked, provides adequate protections for those who are accused.”

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