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Student Development takes steps towards equity

Dawn White shares her vision for Title IX on campus.  |  Jessica Goddard/THE CHIMES

 

Having previously worked in Biola’s Residence Life for over 10 years, Dawn White has taken up a new facet of student care by filling Biola’s first full time Title IX coordinator position.

Q: What is Title IX and how does it affect Biola?

A: “It’s equity in sex across all fields of Biola. So that can be admissions, a lot of people think of it in connection to athletics… So it’s anything across campus really in regards to sex discrimination or equity issues, but the focus right now across the nation is sexual assault and sexual harassment on college campuses particularly.”

Q: Why did you decide to take this role?

A: “I believe in what its about and the need for our campus. I think Biola is unique in that it is a private Christian university, and so I think some of the realities of what Title IX brings up with regards to gender equity, equity of sex is actually what it is in the policy, but also sexual assault and sexual harassment. I feel like they're issues that are hard to talk about in a place like Biola, and yet so needed and so necessary for us to be talking about because the reality is—as much as we want to believe that some people want to believe it doesn’t happen here—it does happen here. And I want to be a part of helping navigate that reality and hopefully over time preventing that reality right.”

Q: Why did the role become a full time position?

A: “Our senior [vice president] of Student Development André Stephens when he came into the role… he was assessing the operations to Student Development, he was noticing that there was a need to have more of a presence in regards to Title IX on our campus. He was also made aware, and just in light of the things that he was taking in from his different trainings and conferences and other universities that he was connecting with, was that there [were] several other full time Title IX coordinators, but his primary concern was that we were unable to be as educational as we could be. Having the role be shared with someone else’s full time role made it really challenging to be more proactive, specifically, again, in regards to sexual harassment and sexual assault.”

Q: What does the position look like so far?

A: “As senior Title IX coordinator, I see all things connected to Title IX. So that’s gonna cover all training across campus for our sexual misconduct policy, which includes harassment—sexual assault and sexual harassment—students, staff and faculty, so across campus. It’s gonna mean that if a complaint comes over about any of those things, I would be one of the facilitators of those complaints, making sure that we are following our processes and policies that are in place in regards to those things. It also means that if issues of equity come up in regards to admissions, or athletics or things like that, I am going to be working with those different areas, with regards to those different issues. So like for education prevention, it's going to be developing plans, programs, educational opportunities for our campus. Those are the sweeping, broad strokes— making sure our policies are up to date to the law and guidance of the federal government.”

Q: What are some challenges you have faced so far?

A: “I think one of the challenges is that it encompasses a lot of things, and so slowly uncovering things that I need to be attentive to. I think Biola is in a fairly good place with regards to Title IX, but there are ways in which we need to improve processes and get messages out and awareness out… And I think because it encompasses so many things and so many people on this campus, I think that, at times, it can feel a little overwhelming of, how do I get training out there and education out there for students, staff and faculty. But also recognizing that I can’t bite off all of that the first month or even year… It’s going to take some time to be able to really create a holistic plan for our campus.

Q: What are your goals for this year and the future?

A: “Trying to figure out: how do I get that message out that this office exists, that this role exists and to continue to invest in our processes and policies that are in place and resources that are in place for complaints and respondents for anything coming forward with regards to sexual assault, sexual harassment. So that’s a big focus of mine right now, is making sure that those things are well developed and well supported and those things meaning policies, processes and even the capacity for us to meet students, staff and faculty with regards to those things. So that’s a huge goal. Part of that is getting awareness out there of myself and this office. And then also my other goal is to create a strategic plan with regards to education and prevention on campus.

 

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