Last week, the University announced that it has retained Grand River Solutions, a higher education consulting firm, to conduct a review of the offices of EEO and Title IX compliance in response to the demands from the Concerned 44 last semester. In an email sent to the student body on March 27, it was shared that Grand River Solutions will also be conducting multiple student focus groups on campus. This follows many students voicing their concerns over the last few years regarding the University’s handling of Title IX complaints.
Per last week’s email, it was made clear that the purpose of the review and focus groups is to gather a greater understanding of the way Seton Hall currently handles issues relating to Title IX and how the response can be improved going forward. Jody Shipper and Cherie Scricca, both of Grand River Solutions, will be leading the on-campus team.
Vice President of Student Services Dr. Tracy Gottlieb said that she has personally reached out to the Concerned 44 and SGA to ensure that all student perspectives regarding on-campus issues are accounted for in the review.
Title IX, the legal protection barring sex-based discrimination in educational settings, has been a heated topic on college campuses across the country. Multiple universities have come under fire for mismanagement of student complaints.
Alyssa Futa, a sophomore diplomacy major, thinks that Seton Hall’s efforts are a good idea.
“I think it is a good idea for the school to have these reviewers come, especially given the events this past year,” Futa said. “There was a clear disparity between groups and offices on-campus, but the school has taken clear notice and action after this disparity was brought to their attention.
“I think that reflects well on the school and the EEO and Title IX offices and their desire to improve and serve the student body.”
Other students indicated that these actions are desperately needed.
Ava Ikbal, a senior diplomacy and international relations major, voiced her concerns. “I think [these reviews] are desperately needed as I am not aware of any impact Title IX has made on campus,” she said.
Ikbal also agreed with Futa’s sentiment that these are appropriate steps in the right direction, adding that many incidents relating to Title IX are disregarded on campuses across the country.
Not all students are pleased with the process thus far, however.
Lianne Joseph, a junior public relations major, supports the initial steps being taken, but is disappointed in the way the office promotes itself on campus.
“A big problem is that students aren’t even aware of the office in the first place,” Joseph said. “I hope that the audit brings more awareness to the office, leading to people being more familiar and willing to approach the office whenever dealing with a problem.”
She also is discouraged that the student focus groups have not been promoted as extensively as they should, saying, “I wasn’t aware that there would be any student focus groups. I’m not sure if the fault is on my hand or the office for not promoting the focus groups enough.”
Joseph now plans to attend a focus group session, saying she believes that she can provide insight that can assist the University in rectifying many problems that students are experiencing.
Going forward, Joseph stresses that the office must do more to promote itself and its services on campus, as many students who need help are unsure of where to go.
As the review goes forward, the University expects to take the suggestions and advice provided by Grand River Solutions to “clarify and enhance disciplinary procedures and training.”
Zachary Shaw can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Find him on Twitter @zach_shaw_.