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New initiatives have been set to help facilitate the conversation on sexual assault and the Title IX process between students and faculty, according to an email sent by President Donald Eastman to the Eckerd community, on Feb. 6

“It is of paramount importance,” Eastman wrote in the email, “that students, faculty, and staff who have concerns about Title IX procedures or who feel unfamiliar with Title IX policies and processes have a conduit for addressing their questions and resolving their concerns.”

The school’s first initiative is to provide ‘listening sessions’ as a way to open up a dialogue between faculty and students. A Student Advisory Council, appointed by Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students Jim Annarelli, will work alongside Annarelli and Title IX Coordinator Joanna Ellwood to help facilitate this discussion. An email with the schedule of these sessions will be sent out in the following weeks, according to Eastman.

A Faculty Advisory Council, appointed by Dean of Faculty Suzan Harrison, will aid Harrison and Ellwood in informing and supporting faculty in the proper handling of Title IX procedures and cases.

The email was sent out the day after a student-led silent protest preceding a faculty meeting scheduled at 1:40 p.m. in the Sheen Auditorium. Upwards of 200 students protested outside of Sheen to shed light on the alleged treatment of Title IX cases by Eckerd’s administration.

“We are not protesting Eckerd’s response to these allegations exclusively,” junior Shelby Scott, one of the protest leaders, wrote in an email to the student body. “Our goal is to make public our dissatisfaction with Eckerd’s administrative culture as it pertains to Title IX incidents in general.”

Eastman concludes his email urging the campus community to come together and work towards “creating and maintaining a humane and welcoming educational environment free of discrimination and harassment.”

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