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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

College hosts first prospective Title IX Candidate

< part of the search for a new full-time Title IX coordinator, the college hosted the first of three candidates for the position on Monday. The remaining two candidates will visit campus Monday, Jan. 30 and on Thursday, Feb. 2.

Through a public presentation, each candidate will lead a 15-minute training activity and will be asked to respond to a letter about sexual assault on campus written by the CSA senate working group on rape culture.

The extensive involvement of the entire campus community, particularly students, was essential in the hiring of the new coordinator, according to Heidi Jaynes, head women’s volleyball coach and chair of the search committee.

“The committee and Dean Livingston thought it to be very important to get student groups and other Title IX entities involved in this process and in front of each candidate when they come to campus, so there can be much dialogue about transparency and campus engagement with our search,” Jaynes said.

The search committee is comprised of students, faculty and staff who spent last term looking for and reviewing candidates for the full-time Title IX Coordinator position after former Title IX Coordinator Julie Thorton left in July 2016.

“We wanted to be very conscience of the decision that was going to be made,” said Tiffany Thet ’17, CSA president and member of the search committee. “I think it would be a disservice for students if they had not been on the search committee.”

Jaynes said that because the candidates’ interviews will be open to all students, faculty and staff, “our committee will seek feedback in a survey from anyone who met with our candidates, as we realize the importance of each voice in this search.”

Such extensive student involvement with the hiring process is more typical of academic searches, but Dean Livingston said that “we expect the Title IX coordinator to be able to talk to  a lot of people at various times and be able to present well, both the content knowledge and expertise. If they can do it now, they should be able to do it when they’re hired for the position.

“This is one of those positions that is of interest to so many in the community, and I think students have particular interest, so I want them to be engaged and be engaged fully,” she added.

In addition to their presentation educating students and faculty about Title IX, each candidate will be asked to respond to a letter addressing the culture of sexual violence on campus.

The CSA Senate Working Group on Rape Culture wrote the letter after the Senate conducted a student survey on sexual violence last term.

“Last term, [Thet] wanted us to write a resolution to describe what rape culture looks like at Carleton and how we can dismantle it, and we thought that just those in the working group, out of 2,000 students, could not accurately represent or define this culture for everyone else, so we wrote a Facebook survey,” said Class of 2019 CSA Representative Apoorva Handigol ’19, a member of the CSA Working Group on Rape Culture.

The working group received over 100 responses to their survey, according to Thet.

“We got a lot of variety in the responses, which we used to write the letter,” said Handigol.

“If they do get selected for the role, each candidate should see the challenges of their position and the potential resources they can use to support and advocate for students, while also working with administration. Although,  there are problems that we believe the administration is contributing to rape culture on campus,” she added.

Thet said, “The survey helps us pinpoint what to say, to see how Title IX candidates would address rape culture at Carleton and to ask ‘How would you advocate for students and survivors?’”

The letter poses questions to the Title IX candidate on how they would attempt to “dismantle rape culture, use their position to promote and support sexual violence prevention,” and address the higher proportion of LGBTQA+ students and students of color who are affected by sexual violence.

According to the survey results, over 11 percent of students reported experiencing sexual assault at Carleton, while students of color and non-heterosexual students reported increased rates of sexual assault at 14  and 19 percent, respectively.

The letter also states that, compared to peer institutions, “Carleton students are less likely to use our institutional procedures to formally report sexual assault.”

“The main problems of the old coordinator were not having the time to tend to the students, and students should be the priority in this job,” said Handigol. “I hope that with this full-time position the coordinator will not only be able to get back to all of the students that they are assisting, but also go beyond that and see what are some tangible ways to deconstruct rape culture on campus.”

Livingston said she hopes the new coordinator will “be able to streamline support and resources for our students. I think that there were challenges in knowing who to go to before, but now I hope it will be crystal clear. It’s quite an exciting time, and hopefully we can have somebody on board by the end of the term.”

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