Though Title IX coordinators have monitored and responded to gender discrimination on campus for more than 30 years, heightened scrutiny of how Yale deals with sexual misconduct has led administrators to increase their prominence.
In response to concerns raised in a recent report by the Advisory Committee on Campus Climate and the Title IX investigation launched against the University in March, administrators said they are expanding training for Title IX coordinators and seeking to better publicize their role. The 14 faculty members and administrators who serve as Title IX coordinators — one for both Yale College and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, one for employees and one for each of the professional schools — will now be overseen by Deputy Provost Stephanie Spangler, who was appointed Monday to ensure Title IX compliance across the University.
“This year, certainly, [Title IX coordinators] have a much higher profile on campus — as does everything and everyone involved in dealing with sexual misconduct,” Assistant Dean of Student Affairs Melanie Boyd ’90 said in a Monday email to the News. “And we are making greater efforts to let students know who they are and what they do.”
As required by federal law, the coordinators exist on campus to receive complaints under Title IX and make sure they are addressed.
Though Title IX coordinators were informed of Title IX law and their duties as coordinators in the past, their training has been greatly enhanced this fall, University Associate General Counsel Caroline Hendel said in a Tuesday email. This year, the coordinators learned about Title IX requirements from Hendel and Associate General Counsel Susan Sawyer, Hendel said, and an outside attorney briefed them on how investigations into complaints of sexual misconduct are conducted. They also attended training sessions along with members of the new University-wide Committee on Sexual Misconduct about sexual misconduct at universities nationwide and the procedures of the UWC, which became active in July and receives complaints from across Yale’s schools.
Some coordinators also attended off-campus workshops conducted by outside experts, Hendel said. Pamela Schirmeister, associate dean of the Graduate School and Yale College and the Title IX coordinator for both schools, said the University paid for her to receive further training at a two-day seminar in Boston, adding that she will soon participate in an online seminar about due process in Title IX issues.
The University also intends to make Title IX coordinators more well-known on campus, University spokesman Thomas Conroy said in a Monday email. Their names and contact information have been listed on a website the University launched last Thursday that consolidates all the University’s resources for dealing with sexual misconduct, Conroy said. Provost Peter Salovey said the University wants students, staff and faculty to all be aware of who the coordinators are and the function they fulfill.
Margaret Deamer, assistant dean and Title IX coordinator at the School of Architecture, said she felt that in the past individual coordinators had to publicize their presence themselves. When she became a Title IX coordinator two years ago, she said, her new role was not widely announced.
“They left it up to us as individuals in our own departments to establish that information,” Deamer said. She added that when she realized students and faculty did not know she was a point person for reporting concerns about sexual misconduct, she asked her assistant to put out a notice.
Spangler, who said she is still familiarizing herself with her responsibility to oversee compliance with Title IX regulations, called the coordinators “essential partners” in improving the sexual environment on campus. Valarie Stanley, director of the Office for Equal Opportunity Programs and Title IX coordinator for employees, oversaw the Title IX coordinators in the past, Hendel said, but the decision to create Spangler’s new role in the Provost’s Office was made “as part of promoting and better publicizing the work of the coordinators.”
“We wanted to have a senior official overseeing the Title IX operation and really taking responsibility for coordinating the Title IX work across the schools,” University President Richard Levin said.
Title IX, which prohibits gender-based discrimination at schools receiving federal funding, became law in 1972.