In an all-campus email sent August 31, Dean Carolyn Livingston introduced a revised organizational structure for the Dean of Students Office and outlined new Title IX programs. “Hearing for a whole year from students about what we do well gave me the opportunity to change the Dean of Students office,” said Livingston. “I am focused on looking at some pieces we can improve upon. These changes come from just hearing from students’ experiences and from a desire for a streamlined process.”
Changes to Dean of Students Office
In structural changes, the college has moved from three class deans to two: Associate Deans Joe Baggot and Cathy Carlson. There are also now two assistant deans. One position is currently vacant, and Livingston will head a search committee in the coming months to fill this role.
The other assistant dean is Amy Sillanpa, who also serves as Interim Title IX Coordinator and Director of Community Standards.
New Title IX Coordinator
After former Title IX Coordinator Julia Thornton left Carleton in July, Livingston appointed Sillanpa as the interim coordinator. Livingston declined to comment on why Thornton no longer works here.
“I chose Amy to be the Interim Title IX Coordinator because I think she was the person on the Lead Team who could do this job best,” Livingston said. “I immediately thought of Amy because she has been involved in Title IX for 13 years and helped create the original Title IX policies and procedures here at Carleton. She seemed like the most logical choice.” Although designated as temporary coordinator, Sillanpa’s role will be identical to Thornton, which includes overseeing the process for any complaint that is brought forward and coordinating and facilitating communication within the Title IX Lead Team.
Sillanpa’s new position caused changes to the Title IX Lead Team. Laura Riehle-Merrill, CCCE Director for Community Engagement and Student Leadership, has taken Sillanpa’s former position as Title IX Deputy for Support. Jan Foley joined the team as administrative assistant.
Beyond these Title IX structural changes, “we haven’t changed anything in the Title IX process. We are trying to move forward the same way we did in the past,” Sillanpa said. “It just happens that I am the Coordinator now.” A search committee headed by Heidi Jaynes, Associate Athletic Director, will form in the coming weeks and will lead a national search for a full-time Title IX Coordinator. To recruit candidates, the job will be posted on national higher education job websites.
The search committee hopes to find three candidates to bring to campus at the end of fall term and to hire someone for the position by the middle of winter term, according to Livingston. All updates about the process will be available from the Dean of Students office website. A full-time Title IX Coordinator will be able to focus only on Title IX, while Sillanpa has other roles including serving as the Director of Community Standards. Livingston said she created this directorship in order to streamline the process for students who violate Community Standards, a handbook of policies for student conduct. All concerns about student violation of community standards go to Sillanpa who contacts the students, faculty or staff involved in the complaint. In the past, each class dean handled issues related to community standards.
According to the Higher Education Compliance Alliance, an organization that provides information on federal laws and regulations for higher education institutions, a Title IX coordinator cannot “have competing responsibilities that would create a conflict of interest. For example, the Coordinator should not be both the fact-finder and the decisionmaker.” Sillanpa serves as both the Director of Community Standards, meaning she could be involved in the facts of a case resulting from a Community Standards violation, and as the Title IX Coordinator, which could involve fielding Title IX complaints resulting from a Community Standards violation.
Dean Livingston said that Sillanpa’s dual role does not create a conflict of interest. “I think people can balance multiple roles,” she said. “We ask ourselves: Is there anything that is going to prevent us from making the best decision. If we make a decision the court can overturn, we are not making the right decision. “If Amy had a conflict of interest she would recuse her position. This office is going to interact with a lot of
students and that interaction does not create a conflict of interest.”
Expanding Title IX Program
Based on feedback received in last year’s Community Conversations, Livingston plans several programmatic changes for Title IX. There will be more education for students and faculty. All new students and all current faculty now must complete Haven, an online sexual assault prevention program. For further student education, Title IX was incorporated into the New Student Week event CarlTalks.
The Community Board on Sexual Misconduct will receive more training focused on trauma. Much of this training will be available online to avoid scheduling conflicts, and thus, to give more people the opportunity to join the CBSM. “Retraining is in its initial stages,” Livingston said.
Green Dot, a national bystander intervention program, will have more trainings for students, faculty and staff thanks to funds from the Dean of Students Office, the GSC and Title IX. GSC Director Laura Haave serves on the Title IX Lead Team as the Deputy for Prevention, so she
oversees Green Dot, a bystander intervention program. Green Dot is a national bystander intervention program that focuses on changing campus culture surrounding sexual misconduct.
“Bystander intervention is successful because people have a hard time imagining themselves or their friends as victims or perpetrators of violence. Bystander intervention does not ask people to do this” Haave said. “It says that everyone can help and empowers people.” Carleton chose Green Dot specifically because “it focuses on culture changes not on intervening in certain situations. Intervening is part
of Green Dot, but it is more about learning certain behaviors are unthinkable, so we stop seeing them.
“Because Carleton is small, I think we have a good shot at changing culture,” she said. “Green Dot focuses on culture, eliminating rape culture. Carleton is small so we can change norms quickly.”