A team approach to Title IX service

The 1972 federal law that prohibits gender-based discrimination in education programs that receive federal funding -- known commonly as Title IX -- also requires recipient schools to designate a Title IX coordinator. Margo Foreman, assistant vice president for diversity and inclusion and equal opportunity, serves in that role at Iowa State. An emerging best practice among universities is to activate deputy coordinators, and as of this fall, Iowa State has a deputy team of seven, double what it was three years ago.

Associate director of equal opportunity (EO), Adrienne Lyles, who serves as Iowa State's senior deputy Title IX coordinator, called the group the "institutional face" of Title IX, with each deputy "very visible" in their work area.

Title IX coordinating team (8)

  • Margo Foreman, equal opportunity office
    University coordinator
  • Adrienne Lyles, equal opportunity office
    Senior deputy coordinator
  • Laura Bestler, Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching
    Deputy coordinator for staff
  • Dawn Bratsch-Prince, provost's office
    Deputy coordinator for academic affairs
  • Monica Howard-Martin, College of Veterinary Medicine student programs
    Deputy coordinator for Vet Med
  • Sara Kellogg, student conduct office
    Deputy coordinator for student affairs
  • Charles Small, athletics department
    Deputy coordinator for athletics
  • Judith Strand, Graduate College
    Deputy coordinator for the Graduate College

"We want to have folks available locally, where they are, for people to express concerns they might have related to sex discrimination," Lyles said. "Generally, deputy Title IX coordinators serve as eyes and ears for discrimination and harassment issues."

Examples include sexual harassment, sexual violence, sexual exploitation, intimidation, stalking or disparate treatment. Discrimination based on sex frequently intersects with other kinds discrimination, she noted, and the work in the EO office covers all the protected classes in the university's discrimination policy.

Each deputy coordinator has a full-time job outside of their Title IX designation. Generally, each serves a specific population -- faculty, staff, undergraduate students, graduate students, student athletes, for example. Because of its location, the College of Veterinary Medicine has its own deputy Title IX coordinator. But Lyles said faculty, staff and students are welcome to contact any member of the team for information or assistance.

Additionally, deputy Title IX coordinators assist with education and outreach efforts such as Green Dot bystander intervention training. Last year, they helped roll out the Consent is BAE (Before Anything Else) campaign. Deputy coordinators also attend a weekly Title IX meeting, private because participants discuss specific cases, and gather several times each semester to learn more about institution-wide issues and training opportunities.

Service first

Noting that EO is a compliance office "in that we're responsible for promoting and enforcing nondiscrimination," Lyles said, "we've worked really hard at culture, at sharing our commitment to being a service unit first."

Investigations are a small piece of what the EO team does, and it doesn't do sanctions, penalties or adjudications.

When a deputy Title IX coordinator learns of alleged discrimination, that doesn't initiate a complaint or an investigation. Rather, it triggers an email to the impacted parties that includes resources and options.

"It's their choice to engage with us or not," Lyles said. "It's important to note that we are complainant-driven."

Only in extraordinary circumstances -- a clear pattern of abuse by an individual or an allegation of sexual misconduct by a faculty member against a student, for example -- would the university begin an investigation without a formal complaint.