Title IX staff changes

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Joshua Skinner is the head coordinator of the Title IX office. Photo courtesy of udallas.edu.

Last semester, the Title IX office was located on second floor Haggar, inside the Office of Student Affairs. Today, Head Coordinator Joshua Skinner can be found in Braniff 114, next door to the Academic Success Office.

The University of Dallas’ Title IX employees have seen changes in the last several months, but the importance of the department remains.

Interim President Dr. John Plotts confirmed in an interview that former Title IX coordinator Dr. Sheryl Dellinger no longer works at UD after the department was reorganized over the recent Christmas break. During the same time, deputy coordinator Dr. Heather Kissack left her position to take a job in Colorado, Kissack wrote in an email.

Director of Student Affairs Seth Oldham said it was a coincidence that both left their positions during break. According to Oldham, Dellinger left UD to move close to family in the Midwest.

Dellinger coordinated Title IX for UD in addition to serving as Assistant Provost of Student Affairs since July 2016. Her frequent emails to the student body included information on the cafeteria, nurse’s office, counseling center, financial aid and Masses at Church of the Incarnation and Cistercian Abbey.

Kissack, the former deputy of Title IX, also had other duties. Kissack held a full-time role with UD Human Resources that included Deputy Title IX Coordinator, she wrote. Prior to her job transition, Kissack met with Provost Dr. Jonathan Sanford and Skinner multiple times to pass on the important responsibilities that come with Title IX.

Kissack wrote that she is “very supportive of the new model” in the Title IX department. She is confident that the new coordinator and deputies will “serve UD well in their new roles.”

The new Title IX coordinator for the university, which includes staff and students, is Skinner, with deputies Dr. Mary Fleck and Michele Meny.

Skinner graduated from UD in the class of 2000 with a degree in English. Skinner taught as an adjunct in the Gupta College of Business prior to becoming a full time administrator as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) coordinator in September of 2018.

As of December, a single office now supervises both Title IX and accommodations concerns.

“The Department of Education has encouraged universities to have the Title IX coordinator also serve as what is called the Section 504 coordinator who handle[s] the disability accommodations,” Skinner said.

“[The ADA] ended up being split up between two different departments at some point,” said Skinner about the previous Title IX and accommodations sections at UD. “With [Dellinger] leaving, I guess it looked like a good time to put them back together.”

Oldham said the change in Title IX employment happened very recently, and he believes the university is “still considering how to notify students,” he wrote in an email. Students seeking help can find who to contact on the UD website, as well as the university’s Title IX policy.

The 2018-19 Title IX Policy states that any report of sexual or relationship violence should be given to the University of Dallas Police Department, the Title IX coordinator or deputy, or “any professional” in the Office of Student affairs and resident hall staff.

Oldham clarified in an email that “any professional” would be non-student staff.

“Students who may be facing sex discrimination can reach out to their Residence Coordinator, Moey Brown, Betty Perretta, myself, or anyone in the Title IX office,” Oldham wrote in an email. “Because of their role, Resident Assistants are also trained to receive Title IX reports and direct students to the Title IX Coordinator.”

“If someone has something that would relate to sex discrimination or sexual violence, the object is for there to be as many people available as possible,” Skinner said.

Crime statistics for the UD show one report for sexual assault rape in 2017, two in 2016, and one in 2015. There was one report of dating violence in 2017. Of stalking, there were two reports in 2016 and one in 2015. No arrests were made for crimes committed on campus during these years.

When asked how the community can help to minimize Title IX violations, Oldham advised awareness and understanding the university’s amnesty provision. This provision promises that UD will not take disciplinary action against those reporting as a witness or victim of sexual assault in conjunction with drinking or doing drugs.

“The best way we can minimize the potential for Title IX violations is through awareness and active bystander intervention,” wrote Oldham. When students are conscious of their surrounding and their friends, “the potential for sexual assault decreases.”

Freshman year at UD, a student, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, underwent a sexually abusive relationship that left them not knowing where to turn.

“I didn’t even realize what had happened to me until a year later,” the student said.

“I knew Title IX was there, I knew who was there, but I didn’t want them to make assumptions about me,” the student explained. “They didn’t know me. I didn’t know what would happen.”

Months later, the student is forgoing resurfacing their experience and the relationship is still unreported.

“What would [Title IX] have done?” the student said. “I couldn’t prove anything. It was a year later, and I didn’t want to relive my own hell again.”.

In the current model at UD, the appointment of a second deputy coordinator is a new addition. Skinner said the change provides “additional identified points of contact for anyone who may have suffered from sex discrimination or sexual violence.”

Skinner said he is also confident that any individual working in Student Affairs would work with a student to meet their immediate needs and help them get in contact with the Title IX office.

Title IX is implemented to ensure every individual’s full participation in the university, Skinner said. Any time someone might be kept from that participation because of their sex must be prevented.

“Anybody is welcome to come in here,” Skinner said, gesturing around Braniff 114. “That’s what I want to make available. That’s what I’m here for. We’re tasked with helping making sure the university is addressing these sorts of issues.”

“We want people to come forward so we have the chance to help them, first and foremost,” Skinner continued. “Then, also, work to make the entire environment better so that these sorts of things, whatever it was they experienced, [don’t] happen again.”

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