During a meeting with students on Jan. 5, Catherine Carroll, a possible candidate for the new associate vice president and Title IX coordinator position, said that higher education institutions are in the “dark ages” regarding the handling of sexual misconduct cases.
“There is a lot of room for innovation. Universities across the country are struggling with this because they don’t know what they’re doing,” Carroll said. “Educational administrations […] are a bit notorious for not meeting their federal, legal obligations.”
Carroll visited Jan. 4-5, where she held a presentation for students and faculty in the EMU Gumwood Room. She conducted interviews with other administrators such as President Michael Schill and Vice President of Student Life Robin Homes.
According to Kathie Stanley, chair of the search committee, the committee was unable to reach an agreement on a candidate last month but identified Carroll as a possible candidate for the position.
Some of the responsibilities of this new position include creating a campus-wide strategy to reduce sexual assault, supervising Title IX officers and investigations and coordinating the Sexual Assault Advisory Council.
Carroll, who is the current Title IX officer and director at the University of Maryland, highlighted the need for greater accessibility to resources for victims, greater transparency on sexual misconduct processes, training sessions for administrators on how to handle sexual misconduct and combining all sexual assault resources under one campaign.
At the meeting, Maxine David, a member of the Organization Against Sexual Assault, told Carroll that students have “very little faith” in the administration to handle sexual misconduct after the university filed a countersuit against the victim of an alleged rape by three former university basketball athletes.
Carroll agreed and said that there is always a tension between students and administrators. She says that university administrators nationwide are disconnected in their intentions to handle these cases because they are ill-informed and they rely on people below them to give information.
“[The university has] a number of [administrators] who have been trying to do the right thing, but it doesn’t mean that it was the right thing,” Carroll said.
Michele De La Cruz, who works with the Sexual Wellness Awareness Team, commended the school’s efforts to tackle sexual assault, but criticized confusing policies and how resources are not unified under a single campaign.
“I’m amazed at how long it has taken me to understand and to learn what our policies are … and what our services are [after working with SWAT since last year],” De La Cruz said.
Carroll applied for this position because she feels she receives little support from the president at Maryland, whom she rarely sees.
A copy of Carroll’s application for the position can be found here.