UW-River Falls hires new Title IX coordinator
April 21, 2023
The UW-River Falls campus will soon welcome a new Title IX Coordinator, along with a new office for the position, which is opening soon in Rodli Hall. The position of Title IX Coordinator is federally mandated, and the role’s main objective is to prevent sexual misconduct on campus, work to prevent it from happening in the future, and provide help and resources to sexual misconduct victims.
“We know, based on research, that students are at the greatest risk for experiencing sexual misconduct in their first six weeks on a college campus,” Katie Jackson, the UWRF Dean of Students said, “we refer to that as the ‘red zone’.”
To help combat this vulnerability, “factor solutions” are provided to students before they arrive on campus to educate them about this issue and lay out expectations. This helps them not only learn about sexual misconduct, but teaches them skills to prevent it.
“Anyone can experience sexual misconduct and anyone can be responsible for committing sexual misconduct,” Jackson said. The Title IX Coordinator is responsible for working with the Violence Prevention Coordinator to teach students prevention education surrounding sexual misconduct.
The Title IX Coordinator is also a source of support for students who are victims of sexual misconduct. Almost all employees are considered “mandated reporters,” meaning they are required to report all sexual misconduct they become aware of to the Title IX office. Those who are not required to report include the campus counselors and the Violence Prevention Coordinator.
When a case of sexual misconduct is reported to the Title IX Coordinator, they will reach out to the victim and provide that person with resources for support. They also make sure that the victim is aware of their right to seek accommodations on campus; this may include assignment flexibility or living arrangement assistance.
The Title IX Coordinator also helps inform the victim of their options for response. Potential response options include a report to the police or a formal complaint to the university. The person filing the complaint, known as the “complainant,” then has the option to go through the process of sharing information about the incident and identifying potential witnesses.
The person responding to the claim of sexual misconduct, known as the “respondent,” has the same chance to share their perspective and provide information. An investigative report is put together and the university partners with administrative law judges to hear the case and come to a formal resolution.
The position of Title IX Coordinator was previously held by Jennifer Larimore, who left her position in the spring of this year. As it is required for every campus to have a Title IX Coordinator at all times, Michelle Best was introduced as the interim Title IX Coordinator. Best has had previous experience working in this position at UWRF.
A committee of faculty, staff, and students chaired by Cara Rubis, the Director of the University Center, was created to search for the new Title IX Coordinator. When looking for a candidate, there were certain requirements the committee looked for. A master’s degree was required, but a doctorate was preferred. Previous experience working with Title IX in a University setting was also preferred, as well as training in neutral trauma-informed approaches.
This committee also used a tool provided by Human Resources to sift through applicants and find those with required and preferred qualifications. They identified one applicant and had them meet on-campus with several groups, such as the search committee, and participate in an open forum. The applicant also gave a presentation and met with Chancellor Maria Gallo.
The new Title IX Coordinator will begin on April 17, but until the official announcement is made, Best will remain as the active Title IX Coordinator. According to Jackson, the position has been filled, but the new coordinator is not yet public information.
This new faculty member has previous experience working with Title IX at Texas A&M and is currently relocating to Minnesota to work at UWRF. She has a Juris Doctorate from the University of Mississippi and earned her undergraduate degree at the University of California, Los Angeles.
“She comes to us very experienced,” Jackson said, “I’m very excited to have her on campus.”
One of the first jobs this new hire will have to tackle is educating the campus about recent changes made by the federal government regarding Title IX and implementing them on campus.