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Forums held for Title IX candidates

The first of three candidates discussed her platform Monday.


This is the first of a three-part series on the candidate forums for those running for the position of Title IX coordinator at UNC.

A public forum was held Monday to give Crystal Coombes, a candidate for the University’s Title IX coordinator position, the opportunity to address her plans for the position.

Forums for the two other candidates, Howard Kallem and Jayne Grandes, will be held on Friday and on Sept. 18, respectively, in the Student Union from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m.

The Title IX coordinator position was created in April by former Chancellor Holden Thorp to address concerns with how sexual assaults have been handled by the University. The director of the Carolina Women’s Center, Christi Hurt, has been temporarily holding the position since last spring.

About 20 people attended Monday’s forum.

Coombes, the current Corporate Director of Student Affairs at Centura College in Virginia, said the University is currently balancing policy and a person-centered response. She said this balance is essential to accomplishing the goals that a Title IX coordinator needs to meet.

“Oftentimes we have great intentions, and we are well-meaning, and we have a vision,” Coombes said. “But if we can’t implement that vision and touch upon those intentions then we have failed in what we aim to do.”

She said she thinks students need to look out for one another’s well being in order for the University to move forward and prevent assault from happening altogether.

One of her goals is to promote an active bystander policy, in which students would intervene when they witness a situation that could escalate into an assault.

Shaundria Williams, a human resources professional for UNC’s School of Information and Library Science, said she thinks the position should go to someone who has the appropriate skills.

“I think they should be personable, respectful, open-minded and decisive,” Williams said.

“Although you’re open-minded and willing to hear everyone’s input, at the end of the day someone has to decide what to do.”

Williams said she believes Coombes would be able to hear all parties and facilitate the conversation well.

Lisa Clifford , a recruitment coordinator for the Equal Opportunity/Americans with Disabilities Act Office said she thinks Coombes has what it takes to be a Title IX Coordinator, but she wants to wait until she has seen all three candidates before deciding which one she thinks best fits the role.

Though members of the faculty and staff were at the forum, Clifford said she was worried about the lack of student attendance.

She also said she was concerned about the attitude prevalent on college campuses regarding sexual assault.

“One of my concerns is that a lot of the time you have the eye-rollers, and I think that’s a huge gap that needs to be filled,” said Clifford.

“College is a safe environment to spread your wings, but I think some students need to be more responsible for their decisions,” she said.

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