Low turnout again marked open forums about a new position created as part of Emerson’s efforts to reform its sexual assault response and prevention policies. The forums were meant for the Emerson community to discuss its aspirations for an ideal applicant, according to Sylvia Spears, vice president of diversity and inclusion.
No one attended the first session on Sept. 18, and one faculty member came after 25 minutes to the second on Sept. 19. Spears said no candidates have been identified yet for the position, associate vice president / Title IX and Clery Act coordinator.
Spears said she could see two major reasons for the lack of participants: students feeling “saturated” with all the recent discussion about these policy reforms on campus, and that the position is administrative. The new hire will oversee Emerson’s overall compliance with Title IX — a federal gender equity law — and any complaints regarding violations, according to the job description.
“I think for students, they would be more interested in who’s the person [they’re] going to work with in maybe launching new programs, as opposed to an administrator position who is primarily going to be connected to other administrators,” Spears said of the forum’s low attendance.
The position of director of violence prevention and response / sexual assault response advocate, which was filled by Melanie Matson in March, works more closely with students, but still saw low attendence during open candidate forums.
When finalists have been selected, Spears said they will be brought to campus, and students, faculty, and staff will again be able to participate in the selection process.
To find candidates, Emerson has hired Storbeck/Pimentel & Associates, a professional executive job search firm. Spears said a consultant has been to campus to meet with the search committee, which she is heading, and some administrators who the new employee would be working with, to get an idea of what the college is looking for.
“No one knows our community better than the members of this community,” Spears said. “I think faculty, staff, and students have a stake in who comes here and who’s part of our community.”
Once the firm has an understanding of Emerson’s ideal candidate, it will look for applicants with the desired background. This will lead to a first round of interviews, and finalists will be chosen from there.
Spears said the search committee still needs one undergraduate and one graduate student, who will be selected based on their interest in and knowledge of Title IX, and their ability to commit time to the hiring process this semester.
Spears said she hopes to have chosen a candidate, who then accepts the position, by the end of the semester.