The Pitzer College Title IX Office held the first of a three-part educational workshop series teaching students how to develop interpersonal skills on Feb. 22, 2023. The first session focused on maintaining healthy relationships on campus and supporting those navigating challenging relationships.
Tiombe Wallace SC ’95, who identifies as a Black intersectional feminist therapist, led the initial workshop. The series will continue with “Restoration and Healing in Friendships and Community” on March 30 and concludes with “Intimacy After Trauma” on April 13. Darcy Edmundson PZ ’23, who serves as the Title IX student assistant and a Pitzer Peer Advocate worked to develop the workshops with the Title IX office and Wallace.
“We were looking to have an event that could really establish Title IX’s presence at Pitzer,” Edmunson said.
Alyssa-Rae McGinn is Pitzer’s interim Title IX Coordinator with a career devoted to providing education on relationships, including some of the Pitzer Advocates’ training. She said the staff at the Title IX office saw Wallace as a natural choice to lead the workshops. Wallace and the Title IX office worked closely to build a workshop series that felt relevant to the entire 5C community.
“[Wallace] is a brilliant expert in this area [of community and healthy relationships], and we are so grateful for her work with us to develop this series,” McGinn said via email.
Wallace agreed that in developing the workshops, she found perspectives from 5C students and the student-led Pitzer Advocates were most helpful in determining the needs on campus.
“We knew that we wanted to cover a range of topics that went beyond intimate or romantic relationships, because I feel like that’s kind of what you think about when you think about relationships generally,” Edmundson said. “So covering friendships or community was a big one that we really wanted to hone in on.”
Wallace felt that the topics covered were important for everyone to learn about and consider, not just college students.
“We all can use assistance and reminders, or … places to discuss … how do we build in both self-care and community care, and destigmatize building relationships where we can care for ourselves and each other?’” Wallace said.
McGinn recommended the two upcoming workshops to students from all 7Cs.
“We hope that these workshops will provide a space for sharing, processing difficult emotions, self-growth and healing,” McGinn said. “We are also hoping that students will gain greater comfort with these topics and use these workshops as a springboard to continue thinking deeply about them.”
Wallace hopes that the work she and McGinn have been doing to center compassion in the Title IX Office continues.
“Often it can feel like it’s such a logistical office with this really important protocol-related and procedure-related role,” she said. “But it’s also really important to have compassion and community trust.”
Last year, Pitzer students openly criticized the Pitzer Title IX office and called for personnel overhaul, eventually prompting several staffing and policy changes for the office. Although the office changes were prior to her arrival as a student, Edmundson explained that the Title IX Office should have been leading with compassion from the beginning.
“Hopefully the new ethos of Title IX moving forward is compassion, care, community,” Edmundson said. “And that’s really, I think, what the workshop is trying to build.”