UT Knoxville Opens Title IX Office Following $2.5 Million Lawsuit
UT Knoxville announced the opening of its new Title IX office on Tuesday after a report says the school fostered a “hostile sexual environment”.
The University of Tennessee, Knoxville has opened a Title IX office and has appointed an internal employee to run the new department.
The school announced in a press release on Tuesday that Assistant Vice Chancellor for Student Life Ashley Blamey will be appointed to Title IX Coordinator.
“Ashley brings ideal professional experience, academic preparation, and leadership to create a national model for sexual assault awareness and prevention,” says UT Knoxville Chancellor Beverly Davenport.
Prior to her role as assistant vice chancellor for student life, Blamey was the director of the Center for Health Education and Wellness where she was deputy Title IX coordinator.
Blamey is credited by the school for being awarded a three-year $30,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice to help create best practices related to sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking.
Pressure to Improve Title IX Efforts
The pressure to create a Title IX office came on the heels of a $2.5 million lawsuit which brought scrutiny to the handling of sexual assaults on the UT campus.
A committee of four independent Title IX experts, hired by UT President Joe DiPietro, compiled a 28-page report in June following an investigation which delineated both concerns and recommendations for the university’s handling of campus sexual assaults.
The report suggested that the university hire a statewide coordinator for policies related solely to Title IX. It found that the university fostered a “hostile sexual environment”.
The independent experts also recommended hiring additional Title IX staff and resources, updating and modifying current policies and procedures, improving support for students, and creating additional education, prevention, and training courses.
“I will still spend time with student life and with equity and diversity,” says Blamey. “A good Title IX coordinator should be working with everyone on campus. I’m not going to lose those opportunities or relationships. That’s how you do really good, comprehensive work is through collaboration.”
Other Roles in the New Title IX Office
Before the creation of the new office, Jenny Richter maintained UT Knoxville Title IX oversight responsibilities since 2001. She will continue to serve as associate vice chancellor in the Title IX office and as director of the school’s Office of Equity, ensuring the university continues to comply with all state and federal laws surrounding Title IX.
The office will also include a student support coordinator, a senior deputy Title IX coordinator, a training coordinator, and an administrative assistant, reports USA Today.
“I am grateful for the University of Tennessee’s commitment to this important work. It is an honor to serve as the Title IX coordinator, and I look forward to supporting the continued efforts of our dedicated faculty, staff, and students,” says Blamey.
The school will soon begin its search to find a replacement for Blamey.
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