Continuing a trend of increased focus on issues surrounding sexual assault, Claremont McKenna College and Pomona College each recently announced the creation of a full-time Title IX coordinator position.
To help spearhead CMC’s Personal and Social Responsibility Initiative, Nyree Gray, a former law professor and dean of students at Southwestern Law School, joined the CMC administration as the new Title IX Coordinator and Chief Civil Rights Officer. And at Pomona, current Associate Dean of Students for Student Development and Leadership Daren Mooko will become the college's first full-time Title IX Coordinator on Jan. 1, a role that was previously integrated with his other duties. Mooko will also serve as one of Pomona's Diversity Officers.
In an Oct. 1 email announcement to CMC students, CMC President Hiram Chodosh wrote that Gray will “be responsible for all of our federal civil rights obligations to prevent discrimination and harassment including but not limited to gender-based conduct.”
Before Gray’s hiring, CMC Assistant Vice President and Dean of Students Mary Spellman served as Title IX Coordinator. In September, however, Chodosh announced the creation of a separate, full-time position. The college has also created a position, which remains to be filled, for a full-time investigator who will focus on sexual misconduct and civil rights complaints.
While Gray’s responsibilities include overseeing investigations of Title IX violations and guiding students through the reporting process, she said that she also wants to help shape student perceptions about discrimination and sexual assault by “really engaging students and … thinking about their behaviors and how it relates to these events.”
Gray said that her new role’s combination of policy with education and prevention attracted her to CMC.
“The only thing that made me even consider leaving [Southwestern] was the fact that I would have the opportunity to really be impactful in this role,” Gray said. “I thought it was so creative, the way that they brought this about, having a chief civil rights officer who has the impact of not just doing policy but also getting to work hands-on with faculty, students and staff.”
Gray, who earned her B.A. from University of California, Berkeley, and law degree from Southwestern University, hopes her longtime interest in civil rights and experience litigating civil rights cases will serve her well.
She emphasized that she wants to collaborate with existing student groups on campus and help encourage meaningful exchanges between students about issues related to Title IX and civil rights.
“Being Dean of Students and Diversity Affairs, I’ve always had a deep concern for students and how they grow during this time,” Gray said. “So I think what I’ll draw most upon is my experience being a member of the faculty, being a person who advises and counsels students.”
Gray also plans to work closely with administrators of the other Claremont Colleges to coordinate policy and provide consortium-wide resources for students.
That sentiment of cooperation was echoed by Pomona President David Oxtoby when he announced Mooko's new position in an Oct. 9 email to the student body.
“This new position is part of the College’s strong commitment to address and respond to issues of sexual violence on campus, and to focus more comprehensively on diversity and equity issues at the College,” Oxtoby wrote. He noted that Mooko will be “collaborating with colleagues across all levels and divisions of the College as well as across the consortium and nationally.”
Mooko will retain the Associate Dean title and act as clery officer for Pomona, Oxtoby added.
Mooko wrote in an email to TSL that he believes the change will allow him to approach Title IX policy issues in a more comprehensive manner.
“I feel I will now be able to also focus on educational, prevention, outreach and support efforts that pertain to Title IX,” Mooko wrote. “I am anticipating being able to connect more with national organizations and resources to ensure the Pomona community is being served effectively.”
Oxtoby, in the announcement, noted the connection between the roles of Title IX Coordinator and Diversity Officer, calling both part of “our collective efforts to build and maintain a safer, more inclusive and more equitable campus climate.” Mooko agreed, describing the two roles as naturally linked.
“What is clear to me is that at its very core, Title IX issues are Civil Rights issues; addressing, interrupting and preventing the discrimination on the basis of gender,” Mooko wrote.
Mooko acknowledged that he was “a bit sad” to leave his role as dean of the junior and senior classes and adviser to the Student Judiciary Council but emphasized that he was looking forward to the opportunities of his new role.
“I feel energized and motivated for this transition,” Mooko wrote. “I am grateful to the College for having the confidence in me to work on these issues. And to be perfectly candid, I also feel humbled because these are incredibly important issues for our community and in no way do I think the work will be easy or simple. But one of the many reasons I have stayed at Pomona for the past 18 years is because I am deeply committed to our community and have a great deal of faith that we all want our community to be a safe and nurturing environment for us all to thrive. “
At the other three Claremont Colleges, the Title IX coordinator role remains subsumed under other positions. The coordinators at the other schools are Pitzer College Director of Human Resources Marni Bobich, Harvey Mudd College Associate Dean of Students Leslie Hughes and Scripps College Director of Human Resources Jennifer Berklas.