By Ruth Steinhardt
The George Washington University is expanding its Title IX Office with three new staffers, two of whom will occupy newly-created positions.
The Title IX office monitors overall compliance with Title IX requirements, implements sexual violence prevention and response programming across campuses and ensures equitable access to university resources.
Caroline Laguerre-Brown, vice provost for diversity, equity and community engagement, said hiring Christina Franzino as assistant director for sexual assault prevention and response and adding Title IX Investigator Kiera Bloore and Title IX Case Manager Herbertia Gilmore will provide students with additional resources.
“Kiera, Christina and Herbertia each bring unique expertise and a demonstrated commitment to sexual violence prevention,” Ms. Laguerre-Brown said.
As Title IX investigator, Ms. Bloore will conduct investigations of alleged violations of GW’s Title IX policies, including allegations pertaining to sexual harassment, sexual violence, relationship violence and stalking. Formerly a staff attorney at the Network for Victim Recovery of D.C., Ms. Bloore has several years’ experience as a legal representative for survivors of sexual assault in criminal cases, civil protection order hearings and Title IX hearings.
“I strongly believe in the ability of Title IX programs to provide tangible benefits to campus communities when they are conducted appropriately,” Ms. Bloore said. “I want to be a part of improving and strengthening GW's Title IX program and making it one the entire campus community feels is fair and reliable.”
Ms. Franzino was previously a fellow at national sexual assault prevention organization It’s On Us, where she managed the Campus Innovation Program. As an undergraduate at Kenyon College, she served as co-director of the school’s confidential student advocacy organization, where she assisted individuals navigating the campus adjudication process.
As assistant director for sexual assault prevention and response, Ms. Franzino will initiate and direct confidential student advocacy and case management following reported incidents of Title IX violation. She also will develop educational outreach on sexual assault prevention and response for students, staff and faculty, sometimes in partnership with campus and community organizations.
“Everyone has a role to play in ending campus sexual violence, and I'm excited to engage the GW community in this goal,” Ms. Franzino said.
Ms. Gilmore is a legal professional with more than 20 years’ experience with Title IX and civil rights issues in higher education. She served most recently as deputy Title IX coordinator at George Mason University, where she dealt with questions of student and employee civil rights and university policies and practices. As Title IX case manager, Ms. Gilmore will provide individual parties with information and options, case status updates and referrals to on- and off-campus resources.
The office continues to be led by Rory Muhammad, Title IX coordinator and a director in the Office of Diversity, Equity and Community Engagement. Mr. Muhammad is a 20-year veteran in the field of inclusion and diversity.
“We want to do everything we can to improve the student experience. More staff in the Title IX Office gives us greater capacity to meet our students’ needs and that has to be our top priority. ” Ms. Laguerre-Brown said.
The office’s expansion comes at a moment when GW is reviewing its Title IX procedures with outside consultants.
“The external review will help us gain valuable insight and recommendations about how to elevate the quality our Title IX processes and services,” Ms. Laguerre-Brown said. “We’re going to continue to be focused on ongoing improvement throughout the review and afterwards.”
All incoming GW undergraduates are required to participate in an online and in-person sexual assault prevention program. Students can choose a topic on which to focus their in-person session, including preventing abuse in LGBTQAI communities, interpersonal violence prevention for international students, and how male students can prevent sexual violence. This is the third year such training has been mandatory.
Another new addition to GW’s assault prevention and response team is Tamara Washington, victim services coordinator with the GW Police Department. While not part of the Title IX office, the GWPD Office of Victims’ Services may work closely with the Title IX team in cases of sexual assault or harassment, particularly where one party is not a member of the GW student body, faculty or staff. (Where both parties to a complaint are GW community members, the Title IX office works with both.)
Multiple resources are available to members of the GW community seeking help or advice about sexual assault, discrimination or harassment. The university’s website, Haven, provides a central location where visitors can find information about harassment and abuse, what to do if they are witnesses or victims and how to report incidents confidentially. Members of the GW community also can request meetings and presentations tailored to specific departments or groups.
The Colonial Health Center features a trauma services coordinator to help support students who are survivors of sexual assault. The sexual assault response and consultation team (SARC) responds 24/7 to help victims of sexual assault online and at (202) 994-7222.