Interim Pitzer College President Thomas Poon announced plans on Nov. 13 to create the position of Title IX Coordinator/Chief Diversity Officer at Pitzer. The decision, announced in an email sent to students, faculty and staff, came in the wake of recent student unrest across the Claremont Colleges in response to what many students perceive as racially-insensitive actions toward students of color by the administration at Claremont McKenna College.
According to Poon, the Title IX Coordinator/Diversity Officer will work directly with the Diversity Committee in an effort to create an inclusive campus welcoming of students of various backgrounds, orientations and identities. Furthermore, the new holder of this position will deal with issues of sexual misconduct on campus in accordance with Title IX policies.
“The new position will expand the role of the [Title IX] coordinator to include diversity issues, and it is one step in a series of actions the college will take,” Poon wrote in an email to TSL. “The position is a great next step toward addressing the community’s concerns.”
The Diversity Committee will oversee the process of searching for and selecting someone to fill this position, as well as determining exactly what the job entails. Diversity Committee Chair and Professor Jim Hoste stressed the importance of involving Pitzer’s community in drafting the coordinator’s job description.
“We really want to talk to students of color,” Hoste said. “We want to talk to faculty, we want to talk to staff, we want to talk to everybody. And try to define, you know, ‘what would this position be?’”
The Diversity Committee is concerned about the having one person filling two roles of Title IX Coordinator and Chief Diversity Officer, according to Hoste.
“We wonder how the same person could be both the Title IX Coordinator and a Chief Diversity Officer. So we’re very worried about that, and we think that those are not necessarily compatible,” Hoste said. “The Diversity Committee does not want those to be put together.”
Director of Human Resources Marni Bobich, who is currently acting as Pitzer’s Title IX Coordinator, wrote in an email to TSL that the combination of the two roles is necessary.
“The issues of campus diversity, inclusion and the addressing of sexual misconduct on college campuses are often not mutually exclusive,” Bobich wrote. “Having one person overseeing both aspects will allow the College to address these matters in totality.”
Hoste also emphasized the importance of including faculty of color in this conversation.
“I think it’s also important that we have better mentoring and support for faculty of color here, and I think that’s in many ways a separate issue from the kinds of issues that face students,” he said. “I think faculty should address this issue, and see what we can do collectively to come up with better systems of mentoring and support for our faculty of color, especially newly hired ones and … ones who are associates but not yet full professors, and so on.”
Hoste has a few ideas for addressing the issues recently vocalized by 5C students of color.
“I think that students of color want a physical space at the college [for] meeting places,” he said. “And, you know, developing programming around issues of diversity is important, we need to address that.”
Hoste said that though Poon’s announcement is an exciting start to an important process, the process is only just beginning.
“We really want to involve the community in figuring this out, and we really want input from students, staff and faculty,” Hoste said.