Amid concern over the role of diversity in student admissions, the University is trying to improve its services to prevent discrimination and harassment at the administrative level.
University officials recently announced the creation of the new Office of Institutional Equity, which will merge the services provided by several offices including the Sexual Harassment Policy Office and the Office of a Multicultural Community.
In a letter to the University community, Provost Paul Courant, Associate Vice President for Human Resources Barbara Butterfield, and Senior Vice Provost Lester Monts said the office will be responsible for the University’s affirmative action policy, sexual harassment policy, equity, diversity, and multicultural services, as well as the reporting and management of related data.
“The Office of Institutional Equity is a new formation within the human resources area and its being restructured to provide better service on issues of equity, equality, fair play,” Monts said.
Butterfield said it is important that the University maintain a climate and environment that supports diversity among administrators, faculty, and staff, even in the face of budget cuts. She said the effort will actually expand and improve services, as it will improve efficiency by consolidating overlapping services that specialized offices used to provide.
“For example, if you are a Black female student, which office do you go to?” Butterfield said, adding that the new office will provide a single gateway to services instead of having to navigate many offices based on the type of assistance required.
Kathleen Donohoe, the director of the Sexual Harassment Policy Office, said although the restructuring has involved losing office staff, their services will remain the same.
“I think we’ll be utilizing other people to partner with us, and we’re also going to ask other people out in the different units to take on a significant role in helping us to do the prevention,” she said.
She said plans to restructure have been ongoing. “We have always talked about having a University wide office that devoted itself to an ethical environment,” Donohoe said.
“With the budget cutbacks, it prompted (Butterfield) to have to look at her whole organization to see if she could multiply her resources by doubling up,” she added.
Office of a Multicultural Community director Jimmy Myers said there would be increased emphasis on programs to prevent harassment and discrimination as a result of the restructuring.
While offices that directly deal with student diversity are separate from the restructuring, student complaints involving administrators, faculty, and staff will be directed to the new office.