After several years without a permanent Senior Director of Equity at Fairfield University, Dylan Gordon was hired for the position this past January. In this role, Gordon will also serve as the university’s Title IX Coordinator and handle reports of discrimination and misconduct.

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, commonly referred to as simply Title IX, is a federal law banning sex-based discrimination in any educational institution that receives federal funding.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, Title IX states the following: “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”

Title IX areas of obligation for recipient schools include admissions, financial assistance, athletics, employment, treatment of LGBT+ students and sex-based harassment. Sex-based harassment “encompasses sexual assault and other forms of sexual violence.” This means that sexual assault and harassment are outlawed by Title IX. When an instance of this is reported, Gordon takes a step-by-step approach to handle the situation.

“When a report is made to me of a potential Title IX violation, the first step is reaching out to the involved individual and making them aware of their rights under the law, the University’s policy and procedures and of the resources that are available to them,” Gordon states. “Then I work with that person to explore their options and guide them through the choices they have, whether to pursue a formal Title IX process, engage in an informal resolution, discover a restorative solution, seek a no-contact order and/or receive supportive measures from the University.”

Students may also turn to Fairfield University’s online sexual misconduct page for resources. The page includes a section – at the bottom – labeled “Title IX Training Materials.” This section contains links to the student handbook, training materials and other Title IX resources. Within the training materials page are resources for both students and faculty.

Here, the university defines sexual violence and sexual harassment. “What constitutes sexual misconduct at Fairfield University encompasses a wide range of behaviors, including, but not limited to, harassment of a sexual nature, stalking, intimate partner violence, intimidation and sexual exploitation,” the website says. “The University prohibits all forms of sexual violence, sexual harassment and sexual misconduct.”

Going into more detail about what guidelines are in place at Fairfield, the page explains that students who have experienced sexual harassment or other Title IX violations can self-report by emailing or by calling Public Safety. A victim’s peer can also report on their behalf.

While Title IX was designed to protect students, some students choose not to report for a variety of reasons. According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC), one in five women and one in 16 men experience sexual assault in college. Yet, more than 90 percent of sexual assaults go unreported. Whether or not a Fairifled student chooses to file a report, Gordon says the Office of Equity is here for them.

“Students who may have experienced a sexual assault, dating violence, stalking or other harassment may have just had one of the worst experiences in their life,” Gordon states. “To these students, I say, explore your support and resources, there is help available, whether you need someone to hear your story, or whether you want to hold someone accountable for their actions.”

Gordon emphasized that support is there for any students who need it, even those who choose not to file a formal report. He explained that there are benefits to making a report with the Office of Equity, even without going through the official Title IX legal process.

“Even if you are a person who doesn’t want to pursue a formal process, which is OK, making a report lets me see where there might be opportunities for training, or corrective measures as Fairfield University pursues our commitment to providing a community free of sexual misconduct,” he said.

Gordon also noted that there are a variety of resources available on campus to assist students going through this experience. Confidential resources like the Wellness Center, located in Jogues Hall, and various faith leaders are available to students. Off-campus, Gordon points to The Center for Family Justice as “a great confidential resource for students to use.”

Equity at Fairfield itself can assist a student in pursuing a no-contact order, getting accommodations and with other supportive measures. Resources and support are also available to students accused of misconduct, as the Equity Office is a neutral entity.

When a student does file a complaint about an instance of sex-based harassment to Fairfield Equity via email, the report reaches the Director of Equity, the role now held by Gordon. Prior to being assumed by Gordon this past January, the Equity Director role was vacant. During this time, an Interim Title IX Coordinator handled student reports.

Prior to being hired at Fairfield, Gordon worked at New York University as a Title IX Investigator and later as Deputy Title IX Coordinator. Before that, he worked for the New York City Department of Education as Title IX Liaison among other positions. Gordon explained that each of these experiences helped prepare him to help the students and community here at Fairfield.

As Senior Director, Equity, Gordon’s major responsibilities include reviewing reports of Title IX violations. But outside of the role of Title IX Coordinator and his duty to oversee the university’s Sexual Misconduct Policy and Anti-Discrimination policy, Gordon also handles other campus-wide initiatives.

“I also address bias complaints as well as complaints of disparate treatment based on protected classes, e.g. disability, national origin, gender, gender identity, religion, race and many others.” Gordon explains. “I train students, staff and faculty on Title IX and Fairfield’s policies. I partner with the Dean of Students on the bi-annual Sexual Misconduct Campus Climate survey; we are analyzing the results of the most recent survey currently.”

Overall, Gordon admits “the Title IX process can seem intimidating and daunting.” Despite the emotional and logistical challenges associated with the process, the new Director of Equity hopes to use his new position to make students feel empowered and supported.

About The Author

Junior | Assistant News Editor | Digital Journalism Major | Editing and Publishing Minor

Junior | Assistant News Editor | Digital Journalism Major | Editing and Publishing Minor

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