King’s appoints first Title IX deputies
The King's College appointed Title IX deputies for the first time this year, adding two new members to the current Title IX team. Previously, Lauren Christian, Clark St. Housing Director and Title IX Coordinator worked with David Leedy, the Dean of Students, and Eric Bennett, the Vice President for Student Development on a team to hear complaints and cases, remain up-to-date on Title IX legislation, ensure that the college is complaint with Title IX legislation and host events and take preventative measures to make King's a safe campus.
But this year, the team decided to appoint Nicholas Swedick, the Director of Student Life, and Michelle Lambdin, the FiDi Housing Director, as Deputy Title IX Coordinators.
"We decided it would be good to add on two deputies to step in to help with the execution of things, so that means everything from safety meetings to, if there are cases that need to be handled, Michelle and Nick being able to be more of the hands-on-the-ground," said Christian. Title IX policies and legislation are regularly changed and updated and cases involving Title IX have garnered media attention as of late, and having additional hands on deck to assist with this work would be beneficial for the team.
Lambdin was also brought onto the team because Christian is also the House Advisor for the House of Margaret Thatcher and if a student from Thatcher filed a complaint, it would be a conflict of interest for her to investigate the case. In such a situation, Lambdin would investigate as an unbiased Title IX deputy.
Swedick also joined the team for further reasons. "We found last year that if a male were to come up, they might feel more hesitancy talking to me than they might if it were a male, so Nick coming on is a male Title IX representative for the student body," said Christian.
"It helps to have both male and female acting in this role. It gives a different perspective and more resources for students," said Swedick. "I hope that all of our students feel like there's somebody now who they can come to and talk to." It also provides students with more options, said Swedick, which is why the team appointed Bennett as the designated "person of confidentiality," meaning that students can go to him and discuss issues and problems in confidentiality.
Both Christian and Swedick said that an increasing number of cases was not the reason two Title IX Deputies were appointed. "Most of the time, if someone does come in to talk to me about something Title IX-related, usually it's about, 'Would this be Title IX? Would this not be Title IX? What resources are available?'" said Christian. "Rarely am I actually following through with the disciplinary proceedings."
Prior to Christian's appointment, Leedy and Sean Horan, the Athletic Director, had acted as Title IX Coordinators, but King's wanted to expand their Title IX team. Christian stepped in in the spring of 2014. "In terms of the conversation, in terms of higher ed, even the Title IX legislation itself has ramped up, so it's just become a lot more to be aware of in the last couple of year explicitly. Not that there wasn't stuff to be aware of before, but explicitly the need to be aware of it became more demanding," said Christian.
Christian said she assumed the role because of her skill set and being part of Student Development, which necessitated her involvement in policies in that sector of the college. She also stepped in because the school was approximately 70 percent female at the time and appointing a female in the role made sense for that reason.
Swedick volunteered for the position of Title IX Deputy. The Student Development team (which Christian, Swedick, Lambdin and additional other employees are part of) met over the summer to talk about policies and improvements to be made.
"One of the things we decided was that it would be really good to make it more of a team thing and give support to Lauren in that role. She did a great job in the past year, and I think we did a great job raising awareness on our campus about the Title IX office and her role…but it's a heavy role, and we decided it would probably be good to add some people to that team," said Swedick.
"I felt like working on Lauren's team and in my role as Director of Student Life, I want to be here as an advocate for students and to serve them. This is a way I thought I could continue to do that as deputy coordinator in helping students walk through some of these very difficult situations," said Swedick.
So far, Swedick said they have not had many people come to them as of yet, but weekly meetings "have helped." At the meetings, the team discusses the school's policies, reviews the federal legislation and reviews recommendations coming from higher authorities and how King's can implement them.
One of the team's goals is to initiate conversation about sex, gender and harassment at King's amid the changing cultural climate on and off college campuses. "This question of sex and gender at large is constantly changing, and so we're trying to figure out, 'How do we, at King's, want to approach this topic?' And that's an ongoing conversation," said Christian.