By: Sabrina Brown
Xavier Newswire: What is Title IX, and why is it pertinent to have a Title IX coordinator on campus?
Kate Lawson: Having a full-time Title IX Coordinator on campus: 1) provides a central resource for students, faculty, staff and the broader community on Title IX-related issues; and 2) allows for the high level of attention, coordination, collaboration, leadership and accountability required to comprehensively and proactively address Title IX-related issues on campus.
XN: What services does the Title IX Office provide for students?
KL: The Title IX Office serves as a resource for questions or concerns on sex discrimination at Xavier; facilitates a prompt, effective and equitable process to resolve complaints of sex discrimination; conducts thorough, reliable and impartial investigations of reports of sex discrimination; provides complainants and respondents with information on the investigation and conduct process in sex discrimination cases; connects students to support and advocacy resources; provides education on Title IX, sex discrimination and the underlying issues of sexual harassment, sexual violence, intimate partner violence, healthy relationships, stalking and the like; puts in place interim measures (i.e. No Contact Order, adjustment to housing, academic arrangements) potentially required pending the resolution of a complaint; and addresses the effects of the sex discrimination on the complainant and broader community.
XN: Why did you choose the career path you did?
KL: While in college, I began to understand the reality of sexual violence as opposed to the myths and misinformation I had learned growing up. I was overwhelmed by the prevalence, underlying dynamics and impact of sexual violence and decided I needed to do something every day to change it. As a lawyer, I represented victims of sexual violence on issues of privacy, safety, housing, education, employment and the like at a nonprofit law center in Boston for eight years. Through my education cases, I became very familiar with Title IX and was often involved in conduct hearings, where I saw the impact of these issues not only on my client, but the respondent, and both parties’ friends and families- not to mention the broader campus community. I witnessed firsthand how powerful and impactful a university’s response to sexual misconduct can be. As I understood more about role of the Title IX Coordinator on campus, particularly the position’s opportunity to facilitate university-wide conversations on how our approach to these issues reflects who we are and who we want to be as a community, I knew pursuing a Title IX Coordinator position was the right next step in my career.
XN: What was the situation on Xavier’s campus when you arrived, and what improvements do you hope to see/make?
KL: Coming to Xavier I found an extraordinary group of people — staff, faculty and students — invested in and committed to identifying best practices around Title IX compliance (in everything that means) and who seemed very happy that there was someone in a full-time position now to lead that effort. I am extremely fortunate to have the phenomenal work and recommendations of the Title IX Task Force as a primary guide. The Task Force recommended a framework for Xavier’s approach to our Title IX work: 1) preparedness 2) prevention 3) response and 4) recovery — my goal is to work with staff, faculty and students across campus to strengthen the policies, procedures, programs and services that fall under each of these pillars.
XN: What have you found most challenging and rewarding about this position so far?
KL: Hands down the most rewarding part of the position so far has been the genuine interest and investment in working on Title IX issues with me that staff, faculty and students have demonstrated. I have been gratified by the openness, honesty and spirit of collaboration that colleagues and students have brought to the conversation and the work.
The most challenging part of the position so far, which I have actually really enjoyed so I see it as a positive challenge, is learning the internal workings of a university — I’m getting used to a whole new higher education language and framework. Luckily, those I work closest with are graciously filling me in along the way.