This week’s MCSG meeting began with a discussion led by Title IX and Bias Harassment Coordinator Timothy Dunn.
“Now that we have got the work flow under control, now that I’m feeling comfortable in the culture here, I think the next step for me is I need to find a way to connect with the students,” Dunn said. “And by connect, I mean I would find a way for them to be familiar with me… I would like to establish at least the basics of trust in my office. I say it that way because I think that students inherently don’t trust administrators, but my office particularly because I am beholden to the federal government.
“Even things like ‘should I be going to basketball games, and how do I be more visible?’” Dunn asked. “A lot of these things I stayed away from because when I hear Title IX, I don’t hear it in a positive context… I’m just kind of curious as to your thoughts and strategies and tactics.”
Student Services and Resources Committee, Vice President and President-Elect Blair Cha ’20 asked Dunn why he believes there is a lack of trust in Title IX services.
“I’ve been to several public forums and students are very vocal about their mistrust of Title IX, and I think a lot of it is because no matter how you shape it, the experience is a tough one,” Dunn replied. “I will, every so often, like once a week, get an anonymous email or sometimes not [anonymous] from a student just expressing concern because they’ve had negative experiences with Title IX.
“I decided that in order to be the face of this office that I’m going to have to take control of the space,” Dunn said. “The reason I say that is because the number of students who have had negative experiences with Title IX far outweighs the number of cases I’ve handled in the year I’ve been here… And so now that we have the work flow systems under control, and I’m more comfortable navigating Mac… I thought the best way to find out how to connect with this population would be to ask.”
“I personally think that one of the huge strengths of Macalester is just seeing administrators as people,” Vice President-Elect Karinna Gerhardt ’20 said. “Coming here is a first step and maybe attending other meetings and other orgs, I can think of several orgs that would probably be interested in you talking or asking questions in a structured way, so trying to identify those leaders who are working on different projects that are related to your work is a way you could connect.” “I don’t think that the Title IX coordinator is the same as other administrators, and I’m not sure that having you be in Café Mac would be the best idea because I think that could be triggering for someone,” Student Organization Committee Chair Lily Alexandroff ’21 said. “I think that starting with intermediary events, or holding open office hours for students to come visit you would be better.” Dunn also discussed his efforts to hire a new staff member to fill the position recently vacated by former Sexual Violence Prevention Program Coordinator & Deputy Title IX Coordinator Laura Linder-Scholer. He noted that he wanted to make a few changes to the job description so that the new staff member can be a more confidential and supportive resource to survivors. “That person would be someone that a survivor could go to talk to, and the person would only report the statistical information that I need for regulatory purposes,” Dunn said, “The focus [of the position] would still be on programming absolutely, but I’m looking for someone who is, frankly, a counterbalance to me. Laura was a deputy Title IX coordinator,” Dunn continued, “But I’m not going to give that other person deputy responsibilities because I want that person to have that ability to deal with students, like survivors or even respondents, in a way that is much more warm than someone in my seat would be able to do.” Dunn stated that the new job posting will be posted nationally on Friday, March 15. Dunn plans to contact President Malik Mays ’19 after spring break and ask him to refer a couple of students to sit in on a hiring committee of administrators. He said he would like to start phone screenings with candidates by the third week of April and offer a candidate the job by the beginning of June.