By James Irwin
The George Washington University has hired a new director and Title IX coordinator to serve in the Office of the Vice Provost for Diversity and Inclusion.
Rory Muhammad, who currently serves as Title IX coordinator at George Mason University and spent nine years at Mason’s Office of Equality and Diversity Services, will oversee a range of policies, procedures and programs at GW to help prevent sexual assault, support survivors and investigate incidents of compliance.
Mr. Muhammad begins in his new job on Nov. 10.
“Rory’s depth of experience with Title IX matters, training skills and his background working on a college campus made him an ideal choice,” said Terri Harris Reed, vice provost for diversity and inclusion. “He has demonstrated success while working on a range of issues, including supporting survivors and creating fair and transparent complaint processes. He also is open to including students in the design and delivery of outreach and education programs and understands the important role faculty can play in raising awareness and getting survivors the support they need.”
In addition to serving as the primary point of contact for designing and implementing activities such as bystander and diversity dialogue programs, Mr. Muhammad will work with a new GW committee on sexual assault and response. Invitation letters to join that committee were mailed out from the provost’s office this week.
“I have met a group of highly committed professionals and students whose goal it is to enhance the George Washington learning, working and living environment,” Mr. Muhammad said. “Title IX compliance in higher education has received a high level of attention across the country. This attention is deserved since providing a safe and respectful community that addresses all issues of sexual misconduct and sexual assault should be important on all campuses and in all communities.”
The Title IX position was one of two in-progress candidate searches in the Office of the Vice Provost for Diversity and Inclusion. The University currently is conducting a search for an assistant director of sexual assault prevention and response.
“That position will be an advocate for survivors and play a critical role in our outreach, education and other prevention efforts,” Dr. Reed said.
The two positions, along with other members of the diversity and inclusion staff, will partner with the Division of Student Affairs, coordinator of victim services and student organizations to design and implement prevention programs.
Sexual assault prevention resources, including bystander intervention training, trauma services and events and programs that raise awareness of methods to curb sexual violence, are available throughout campus. 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 University Counseling Center features a trauma services coordinator to help support students who are survivors of sexual assault. The sexual assault response crisis team (SARC) responds 24/7 to help victims of sexual assault.
In September, GW President Steven Knapp joined President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and students at the White House for the launch of a public awareness campaign about sexual assault. Earlier in the summer, experts at Wise Results, LLC, were retained on a short-term basis, to assist Dr. Reed in the review of current policies and training materials in light of recently issued legislation, guidance and recommendations—including those suggested by student leaders and advocates regarding sexual assault resources available to the campus community.
The university updated its Sexual Harassment and Sexual Violence Policy and Procedures last fall. The document informs members of the university community about sexual harassment, including sexual violence, and provides guidelines for what they can do if they encounter or observe it in connection with any university program or activity.