This semester, Corinne Vorenkamp began her work as Pitzer College’s new Title IX coordinator. Before starting at Pitzer, Vorenkamp was a lawyer who worked with victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.
Vorenkamp applied for a position as Title IX coordinator because she wanted to do more proactive, preventative work on sexual violence.
“I really enjoyed litigation, but one of the things I got more interested in and involved with was prevention, education, and outreach,” said Vorenkamp.
Prior to Vorenkamp’s appointment, Pitzer’s Director of Human Resources Marni Bobichalso served as the Title IX coordinator.
“The previous Title IX coordinator was also the head of HR and she was spread too thin. Due to that, a survey indicated that many students were not reaching out to the Title IX coordinator,” Sachi Watase PZ ’17, a student member of the search committee, wrote in an email to TSL.
Hoping to create a role more dedicated to the issues of Title IX, Pitzer began a search for a new coordinator at the beginning of last semester. A committee of students, faculty, and staff led the search process for Vorenkamp’s position.
“Members of the search committee participated at every step in the hiring process, which included reviewing all candidate files and conducting Skype interviews with a diverse set of candidates from throughout the U.S.,” wrote Interim Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of Faculty Nigel Boyle to the Pitzer community in an email notification. “At the end of this process, it was clear that Corinne was by far the strongest candidate for the position of Title IX Coordinator at Pitzer.”
The students on the search committee participated like other representatives, but were also able to give a student perspective on the issues at hand.
“As an Advocate on the committee, I knew what working with the Title IX coordinator entailed, so I had a good idea of what qualities we were looking for in our candidates,” wrote Watase, a member of the Pitzer Advocates for Survivors of Sexual Assault.
In general, the job of a Title IX Coordinator is to give support to those involved in a case of sexual misconduct, said Vorenkamp. This includes providing support, information, and resources to victims of sexual misconduct, whether they are students, staff, or faculty. It also means providing the accused with information and resources relating to allegations.
“First and foremost, it’s really about ensuring that the process is fair in terms of sexual assault sexual misconduct, all of the varieties on campus. Making sure we’re following best practices…and making sure that the process is compliant with federal law and guidelines and office of civil rights recommendations,” Vorenkamp said.
Although handling existing cases of sexual misconduct is a key aspect of her job, Vorenkamp is also active in changing the environment that creates these cases of violence and ensuring people across the campus know how to deal with Title IX issues.
“There is a lot of educational program and outreach: new student orientation, training for the RAs and Mentors … Making sure they know what are confidential resources and what support, referral, and resources are available both on campus, in the consortium, and in the community at large,” said Vorenkamp.
Vorenkamp said that she is excited to be working in a community with an awareness about sexual violence and related issues.
“I see my role as helping facilitate conversations,” Vorenkamp said. She wants to help Pitzer “come to a place where we reach a system that addresses concerns and feels like it’s fair for everyone. Sometimes people’s ideas of what that may look like can really vary, so I think the challenge is really building consensus and information about what are the options and what we as a community want to move towards as a model.”
Vorenkamp has already worked closely with the other Title IX coordinators at the 5Cs.
“I am really grateful for the consortium model. The other Title IX coordinators have been a tremendous resource for me,” she said.
Along with her fellow Title IX coordinators, Vorenkamp has been in contact with campus and consortium-wide resources like the Queer Resource Center, the EmPOWER Center, and Pitzer’s Advocates for Survivors of Sexual Assault.
Watase said that Vorenkamp’s commitment to working with student groups like the Advocates helped her stand out from other candidates in the search process.
“I hope that she will ensure that all students understand Title IX and know that she is a resource,” Watase wrote.