Former associate university counsel member Valerie Harrison began her new role as senior advisor to the president for compliance yesterday.
This new role is a step toward a more centralized approach in handling sexual misconduct at the university, she said. The office will include Sandra Foehl—the current Title IX coordinator for the university—and a Title IX coordinator who has not yet been appointed to solely handle sexual misconduct complaints and concerns. Tiffenia Archie, assistant vice president for the Office of Institutional Diversity, Equity, Advocacy and Leadership will also join the office.
Harrison said this office is the first on Main Campus that will connect all resources available to survivors, including Tuttleman Counseling Services, Student Health Services, Campus Safety Services, Dean of Students and the Wellness Resource Center.
“I think what we’re trying to do is coordinate the processes and make it easier for students to access,” Harrison said. “We want one point of contact and someone to walk you through the process.”
This appointment follows recommendations made by The Presidential Committee on Campus Sexual Misconduct, which began meeting in September 2014. The committee examined sexual assault and misconduct at Temple in three parts: students’ perceptions of the issue, current policies and procedures and the best practices from other institutions.
In August 2015, President Theobald approved four recommendations made by the committee, including the creation of a website on sexual misconduct, updating the Student Conduct Code, requiring all students to participate in “Think About It”—a online sexual violence training course mandatory for all students—and improving the infrastructure of resources and services for the issue.
At that time, Theobald did not approve the creation of a university office to educate and provide coordinated support and services for survivors. Harrison said after considering feedback from students, parents, faculty and administrators, Theobald appointed Harrison.
“Doing so will enhance consistency and efficiency in oversight and implementation of diversity, equity, Title IX and sexual misconduct matters,” Harrison wrote in an email. “This appointment also leverages existing resources and expertise.”
“I think we are constantly challenged to create the best context for students to thrive, and a healthy and productive workplace for our employees,” Harrison said. “When an environment is truly inclusive, that is the best place for students to thrive. We have to continually challenge ourselves to say, ‘Are we doing all we can do to improve?’”
Harrison said she hopes the office will provide “easier access” to university-wide resources across various offices to support survivors, whether they need legal assistance, health services, support from student conduct or counseling. While the office will not be considered a “rape crisis center,” Harrison said the office will be a “central area where students can take advantage of a number of services.”
Harrison was previously the acting president and general counsel at the Lincoln University in Chester County, Pennsylvania, as well as vice president for legal affairs and general counsel at Arcadia University.
Emily Rolen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Emily_Rolen.