Students with Title IX concerns can now approach more familiar faces, as the Office of Title IX has appointed six new deputy coordinators from various departments on campus.
In the absence of a Title IX director, students were directed to reach out to the Meghan Harte Weyant, assistant vice president of Student Affairs and dean of students, with their concerns.
However, Weyant and Trish Moser, director of special projects for student affairs, recognized that students may feel more comfortable receiving support from staff members who they regularly interact with in different contexts.
“Oriana [Jimenez] served as a tremendous and valuable resource at Rollins. Having six new coordinators now expands the reach of the Title IX Office as well as increases accessibility,” said student Carla Daza (‘20) .
“I feel comfortable approaching any of the new Title IX coordinators, especially because I have formed relationships with some of them and interact with them around campus,” Daza added.
The new deputies include Abby Hollern and Destinee Lott, director and associate director of the Center for Inclusion and Campus Involvement, respectively; Whitney Horton, director of Accessibility Services; and Rebecca DeCesare, senior operations coordinator of Campus Safety.
Kourtnie Berry, assistant coach and recruiting coordinator for women’s basketball, and Matt Hawks, assistant vice president (AVP) for Human Resources and Risk Management, round out the cohort.
Pennie Parker, director of Athletics, continues to serve as the Office’s deputy coordinator for gender equity in athletics.
The deputy selection process began during former-coordinator Oriana Jiménez’s tenure at Rollins. Jiménez, Harte Weyant, and the Office of Student Affairs named candidates this summer. The “handful of people” that declined the position cited their existing workload as a concern, according to Weyant.
Moser identified “building capacity on our campus” as an important objective in increasing the Office’s staff. The selection team wanted to ensure that the office would remain accessible to students in case the coordinator could not be reached.
Candidates were also chosen based on their capacity for student advocacy and engagement. The new deputies “are connected to groups of students who may really benefit from having a deputy,” Weyant said.
Niles Shajee (‘20) said, “For me personally, I would feel more comfortable approaching Destinee [Lott] or Abby [Hollern] simply because I have a close relationship with them and talking to them about Title IX issues would feel less awkward. But I feel like if someone were to be close to the other coordinators they would be able to feel comfortable talking to them as well.”
New deputies joined Jimenez, Weyant, Moser, and Amanda Serpa, Office of Title IX Program specialist, in July for a half-day of training. They reviewed trauma-based response tactics, Rollins’ updated Title IX policy, and how to be transparent with the student body.
“We really sat as a deputy coordinator group and thought through what does it mean to take reports, how do we take reports thoughtfully…we’re not making any decisions, we’re just being able to take those reports and be able to disseminate that information up to interim director [Weyant],” Lott said.
According to Lott, deputies also overviewed “being able to be really compassionate, and thinking through what is all of the information that we need if a student is reporting, and how do we make sure we get all of that information in the front end to make it as easy as a process as possible in sometimes a really difficult situation.”
New deputies are set to complete monthly training sessions until a new coordinator is named this fall semester. Weyant, who currently serves as the interim coordinator, indicated that training initiatives may still be held after then. Nonetheless, Weyant firmly believed that the deputies are prepared to serve their new positions: “They don’t see this as just an add-on.”
Ultimately, Weyant wanted students to feel more encouraged to voice any Title IX needs, hoping that this deputy cohort will “open up a new set of options for both reporting and responding parties about who they can connect with.” Furthermore, Weyant is open to any student suggestions for other new deputies.
While the Office of Title IX continues to search for a new director, its on-campus presence continues to spread. Section III of Rollins’ Title IX policy—which may be accessed through the college’s website—contains each deputy coordinator’s contact information.
Students with urgent Title IX needs may still contact firstname.lastname@example.org or (407) 691-1773.
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