President Jonathan Veitch announced Friday that Ruth Jones will join the Occidental staff as Title IX coordinator, ending a hiring process that started with Veitch’s Mar. 1 sexual assault update email.
According to Veitch, the role of the Title IX coordinator is to ensure compliance with Title IX, a portion of a constitutional amendment that prohibits exclusion from federally-sponsored activities based on gender.The coordinator’s responsibilities include responding to complaints of discrimination, leading a committee on sexual assault and organizing Title IX-related training and education. The hiring of such a coordinator was prompted by suggestions from Leslie Smith and Gina Gomez, attorneys hired by the school last spring to review sexual misconduct policies, and suggestions by the Occidental Sexual Assault Coalition to remove the position of Title IX coordinator from its previous position in the Student Affairs Office.
As the first permanent Title IX coordinator for Occidental, Jones will work in the President’s Office and report to the president. However, Jones is quick to assert her independence.
“I am in the president’s office but I am independent,” Jones said in an interview. “My job is to work with everyone.”
In a similar vein, Jones also emphasized the importance of working closely with students to inform her work.
“Students have to be involved in order to really have a policy and procedure that resonates with the reality of life,” Jones said.
Students will have their first chance to collaborate with Jones at a community meeting on Feb. 4 at 11:30 a.m. in Choi Auditorium. Jones plans to introduce herself and answer questions from the audience.
Jones’ initial aim is to improve transparency on the issue of sexual misconduct on campus. This change involves frank and open discussions on sensitive issues, such as implementing a zero-tolerance policy or verbal consent policy.
“One of the things I hope to contribute is to reframe the discussion, so that people can do more than just say ‘Zero tolerance – yes!’ or ‘Zero tolerance – no!’” Jones said. “No, let’s talk about what that means, let’s talk about what the objectives are going forward.”
Jones will formally begin work on campus on Feb. 24, but students can currently reach her by sending an email to [email protected]