SUNY Plattsburgh Appoints New Title IX Coordinator
Butterfly Blaise, SUNY Plattsburgh adjunct lecturer in the gender and woman studies program, was appointed the college’s Title IX coordinator.
Title IX is a federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in schools that receive federal funding. Often considered the equalizer in athletics programming, the law also protects all campus constituents — students, faculty and staff.
“My role is critical to ensure that all members of the campus community understand their rights under Title IX as well as to ensure that SUNY Plattsburgh is in compliance with these rights,” Blaise said. As a result, she is responsible for student outreach, reporting of stats, trends, investigation findings, investigation of Title IX reports for campus adjudication, prevention, education, compliance monitoring, and working with university police and other college officials.
Blaise, who holds a bachelor’s degree in communications with a focus on social justice and community connection and a master’s degree in mental health counseling from SUNY Plattsburgh, is no stranger to Title IX issues. A certified rape-crisis counselor, she previously worked for Planned Parenthood where she served as the community educator and a sexual assault crisis counselor and advocate, lobbied on reproductive care and equal access, and developed and facilitated a program she ran through the Department of Social Services and Probation where she worked with males ages 12 through 65 who had been through the justice system because of sexual or domestic violence against women and children.
She began teaching at SUNY Plattsburgh in 2013. In November 2014, Vice President for Student Affairs Bryan Hartman asked Blaise to serve as deputy Title IX coordinator where she was tasked with investigating reports of Title IX violations.
“I also served on the President’s Sexual Assault Task Force and served on the Safe Space Committee, a LGBTQ student ally program, and I continued teaching educational courses in relation to sexual violence, gender discrimination and consent in the gender and women’s studies program.”
Plans to be ‘Visible on Campus’
Blaise takes the Title IX reins from Dr. Lynda Ames, sociology professor and affirmative action officer, who will continue her work with affirmative action. Personnel in the Office of Student Affairs, including student conduct, housing and residence life, university police, health education, and student health and counseling, will work closely with Blaise, according to Hartman.
“I plan to be someone visible on campus that students, faculty and staff feel comfortable coming to with questions, concerns or reports,” Blaise said. “Much of my time will be devoted to investigations related to Title IX reports on campus. As such, this will require a comprehensive effort that incorporates the evaluation of resources, safety, compliance and educational outreach.”
“SUNY Plattsburgh has been working hard to be proactive when it comes to addressing Title IX issues,” Hartman said. “We’ve been focusing on prevention work for several years now. Hiring a full-time Title IX coordinator is the latest step the college has taken to add to the good work that many on campus have already accomplished.
Violence Against Women Grants
“All of our sexual violence and domestic/dating violence policies and procedures were developed thanks to two Violence Against Women grants. Dr Ames, university police, housing and residence life, and student conduct have significantly enhanced both the training/educational efforts and response protocols thanks to those grants,” he said.
Additionally, the gender and women’s studies program, the Center for Women’s Concerns, the organization No More, which focuses on male participation in ending sexual and relationship violence, and Survivors’ Advocacy, Solidarity and Support “greatly contributed to the campus dialogue and efforts to prevent sexual violence on campus,” Hartman said.
In response to the President’s Task Force on Sexual Assault, the college hired health educator Rhema Lewis in January 2012. Lewis’ focus is on sexual violence prevention.
Summer Orientation Educational Efforts
“And university police, led by Chief Arlene Sabo, has been at the forefront with training and developing response protocols to reports related to incidents covered under Title IX,” Hartman said. “Starting in summer 2014, we greatly enhanced our educational efforts at summer orientation to address sexual violence prevention. Last fall, Rhema, with assistance from the athletic department, housing and residence life, and the members of the fraternity and sorority community, launched a bystander intervention program called StepUp.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo directed SUNY to establish new policies last fall, and as a result, SUNY Plattsburgh reconvened the task force in the spring 2015 semester, Hartman said.
“Due to all these efforts, we are well prepared for implementing the new state law, ‘Enough is Enough,’” he said. “All these collaborative efforts are helping us toward the goal of preventing sexual violence on campus and making students know that we will take them serious if they report a Title IX incident.”