Three months ago, Leighia Fleming, USF’s previous Title IX coordinator, departed from the University for Coastline Community College, where she assumed the position of director of equality and Title IX.
With her departure, USF is left without a Title IX coordinator. According to the Office of the Dean of Students, the Title IX office is slated to “hopefully have a new coordinator in by early 2019.” There are currently no candidates.
This is not the first time USF has been left without a Title IX coordinator –– there have been three different coordinators in the past five years, according to University records. The office is charged with the students’ personal safety and health. It oversees the processing and follow-up of sexual misconduct and assault cases at the institution, as well as training about gender-based discrimination and sexual misconduct.
The office’s temporary solution to the problem of a missing coordinator is three-pronged: an interim coordinator, a Title IX task force and mentorship during the transition from Fleming, who has occasionally come back to USF to oversee the training process.
Dr. Susan Christopher is the interim coordinator. The Department of Student Life (DSL) reported she was suggested by both Fleming and senior staff. “I’ve found [USF] to be very collegial. It’s definitely a team approach. I’ve had lots of support and assistance,” she said.
Christopher most recently served as the Title IX coordinator at the Minerva Schools, a nonprofit institute in San Francisco, as well as an administrator at Stanford University and Mills College. The DSL also suggested that Christopher will be handling aspects of investigations and complaints.
The education and programming portion of the office falls to a different group: the Title IX task force. This group is co-headed by Erin Eckles, director of the cultural centers, and Alvin Mangosing, assistant director of student life, and includes several other members who train school employees. The group existed prior to Christopher’s entrance but has stepped up in responsibilities since Fleming’s departure.
Dean of Students Dr. Shannon Gary, who oversees the Title IX office as part of his duties, feels that with the solution to Fleming’s departure, there are no “blind spots” in the Title IX office’s transition. “There should be no obvious disruption in responding to a student’s complaint or the actions we normally take,” Gary said. Some tasks, such as updating brochures and expanding educational operations, will have to wait, but Gary is confident that the office has taken Fleming’s departure in stride.
Jose Garcia, a RA in Hayes-Healy Residence Hall, would agree. He was shocked to hear that there had even been a leadership change, as his training went so well. “I went through training this summer… I feel confident as a mandated reporter,” he said. He described the training as “informative and relevant.”
Gabriel Greschler contributed to the reporting in this article.