For over a year, Catherine Glaze has served as Stanford’s interim Title IX Coordinator, despite a statement from Vice Provost Lauren Schoenthaler in October 2019 that Glaze would only hold the position for six months.
Now, survivor advocates are calling on the University to expedite the search, as they say delaying hiring of a permanent Title IX coordinator could send a message of low prioritization and instability to sexual violence survivors, potentially making them less likely to come forward.
Glaze cited the new Title IX regulations issued by the Department of Education, external review recommendations to redefine and elevate the Title IX Coordinator role and the COVID-19 pandemic as factors delaying a permanent appointment to the coordinator role.
Glaze’s appointment came after the previous coordinator, Jill Thomas, resigned in October 2019. Glaze held the position previously from 2015 to 2018 before Thomas was appointed. While Thomas was selected with an unprecedented level of student input, students did not provide input before Glaze’s appointment in 2019 to the interim position, according to survivor advocates.
Regarding the current state of the hiring process, University spokesperson E.J. Miranda wrote in a statement to The Daily, “We have hired a search firm to find a new leader for this critical and expanded role and students will be involved in the selection process.”
The Title IX coordinator meets with students about gender-based discrimination, including sexual assault, makes an initial assessment about whether that complaint falls under Title IX procedure and participates in the investigation process by gathering information and evidence.
The coordinator role was expanded in 2018 to include working with the Sexual Harassment Policy Office, the Diversity and Access Office, Employee and Labor Relations and Human Resources managers. The external review of Stanford’s handling of sexual misconduct cases this past May recommended elevating the office further to help facilitate coordination between related offices providing sexual misconduct related services.
Law professor and activist Michele Dauber said the University needs to take steps to restore student trust in Title IX. She cited the Spring 2019 campus climate survey of students on that suggested a lack of confidence in Stanford’s resources for survivors. The survey revealed that a mere 33% of women and 24% of men who had been sexually assaulted sought out campus resources.
“Jobs one, two, three and four are restoring trust,” Dauber said. “If survivors don’t trust the Title IX Office, they aren’t going to report, and that’s why I see the burden of the failure as falling more heavily on survivors. They’re simply not reporting and not getting help.”
Student advocates said they have similar concerns about how the interim coordinator position could affect assault survivors’ decisions to report.
“With so much fluctuating right now in terms of policies — the DeVos regulations, the new SHARE policies — for so many students who are faced with deciding whether or not to file a complaint with the University for Sexual Violence, there’s so much changing already that is outside of Stanford’s control,” said Maia Brockbank ’21, who co-directs sexual violence prevention and Title IX for the Associated Students of Stanford University.
The continued Title IX Coordinator interim position is accompanied by recent changes to Stanford’s procedure responding to sexual violence reports, set off by Secretary of Education Betsy Devos’ new Title IX regulations released in May 2020. In response to these new rules, which narrow the scope of complaints that fall under Title IX, the University implemented ancillary sexual violence procedures under a newly created Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Education office. Some specific adjustments arising from these changes include mandated live hearings and the exclusion of reports made after a perpetrator leaves the University.
Beyond the inherent instability associated with an interim position, Dauber said that “organizations usually fill positions that are a high priority for them. I think a reasonable inference from the fact that Stanford has failed to hire for this position is that it’s just not a priority.”
Glaze, when asked to comment on advocate concerns that the failure to hire a permanent coordinator indicates low prioritization, wrote that the interim position instead attests to the University’s continued attention to the Title IX office.
“The university cared about continuing the Office’s important responsibilities uninterrupted, so [it] brought back someone who knew the office and the people in it [and] knew the university,” she wrote.
Student advocates are also unsatisfied with the level of communication surrounding the Title IX coordinator hiring process and the process’s impact on ongoing cases. Brockbank said the advocates “only found out indirectly” about Glaze’s re-appointment to the Title IX coordinator position via the University website and haven’t received any recent information about the hiring process following the initial notification that students would be consulted. Brockbank also said that the University hasn’t addressed questions about how switching coordinators would affect an ongoing case.
“It’s problems with the policy and its problems with the process as opposed to strict problems with every individual,” Brockbank said.
University spokesperson E.J. Miranda wrote that the University’s reevaluations of offices and roles over the past academic year were conducted “with extensive student input.” The current advisory committee to the Provost tasked with creating revisions and advising proposed revisions to the SHARE procedures includes four out of forty student members, according to student advocates.
Stanford will continue to search for a permanent appointee to the Title IX Coordinator position in the coming months, Miranda wrote.