The Wire corresponded over email with Christine Harris Taylor about her new role as Marquette’s Title IX coordinator. She was hired for the position in May.
Marquette Wire: What specifically does the role of a Title IX coordinator entail?
Christine Harris Taylor: “The Title IX coordinator is the designated agent of the university responsible for overseeing university policy, procedures and compliance with Title IX legislation, regulation and case law. The Title IX coordinator is responsible for documenting all reports of incidents of sexual harassment. I am also one of the members of the Title IX team (to whom) reports of sexual harassment, discrimination and sexual misconduct may be made.”
MW: What is your academic background? Where have you studied?
CHT: “I have an undergraduate degree in psychology from Iowa State University, I earned a law degree from Valparaiso University and my LL.M. (Master of Laws degree) in dispute resolution from the University of Missouri-Columbia Law School.”
MW: How did you decide to pursue a profession in law, and what brought you to the position of Title IX coordinator at Marquette?
CHT: “When I graduated with a degree in psychology, I wasn’t really sure what specialty I was interested in. After working for a year, I decided that law school would offer the most options. I have been at Marquette on the academic side in the graduate program for dispute resolution since 2006. When the position opened up, it combined my experience as an attorney with my skill set and experience as a mediator and arbitrator.”
MW: What are the best aspects of your new position and what are the most challenging ones?
CHT: “The best aspects are definitely the people that I work closely with. The Title IX team, made up of four Deputy Title IX Coordinators: Cara Brook Hardin, Sarah Bobert, Lynn Mellantine and William Welburn, are very committed, proactive and dedicated. The team is committed to having an educational and work environment free from sexual harassment, discrimination and sexual misconduct.
The Title IX team works closely with Emily Schumacher-Novak, coordinator for advocacy services and sexual violence prevention education. The team is involved in sexual assault prevention training and bystander intervention training for freshmen and sophomores, participating as presenters for the live webinars for graduate students and involvement in ongoing training programs for the upcoming academic year.
The most challenging (aspects) are similar for all Title IX coordinators in universities everywhere: creating an environment where students, faculty and staff are comfortable reporting incidents of sexual harassment, discrimination and sexual misconduct. Working with Marquette Police Department and victim advocates, we are dedicated to responding promptly and compassionately to anyone who believes that they have been a victim of sexual harassment, discrimination or sexual misconduct.”
MW: What has the transition into your new position been like?
CHT: “It has been seamless. (Former Title IX Coordinator) Marya Leatherwood provided me with invaluable insight into the position and did a lot of work with policy and process before I was brought in. I continue to receive support for the work the team is undertaking from James McMahon, the interim vice president of student affairs.”
MW: What do you hope to achieve in your new role?
CHT: “I would like the students, faculty and staff to understand that if something should happen to (one of) them and they report it, the university will take care of them, and provide resources and interim measures so that they are comfortable on campus; that the Title IX team has created a process for investigating and resolving Title IX complaints that is understandable and sustainable.”