TU alum Matthew Warren takes up role as Title IX coordinator

“The idea of coming back to school where I had such a great experience and helping ensure students here now have the same great experience, that means the world to me,” said Matthew Warren, TU’s new Title IX coordinator.
Warren, who obtained his undergraduate and Master’s degrees from TU, began working as the Title IX coordinator Sept. 18.
The Title IX coordinator ensures the university is in full compliance with its obligations under federal law, namely in access to education, access to all the benefits of being at college and the freedom from sex discrimination, sexual assault or sexual violence that could affect student’s or employee’s ability to be a part of the campus.
He took the position from Wayne Paulison, who had the duties along with his role as associate vice president for human resources and risk management.
Warren said creating a full-time Title IX coordinator position was an indication of the university’s plan to take the issue seriously.
“When you have four different titles, you really only have so much time in the day,” he pointed out.
He said President Clancy pushed for his position to be created, so that the university would “have no excuses for failing.”
“By dedicating these resources we can really turn a corner and get ahead of the curve,” Warren continued.
In his first month at TU, Warren plans to review TU’s current policies and procedures to ensure they are in line with the most current federal law. Several of these policies are already under review. While the federal government doesn’t care what policies universities have in place, they expect those policies to be comprehensive.
“As these revisions are being staffed and decided, I will be able to say, ‘hey, this looks good, but have you thought about X, Y, and Z,” Warren said.
As part of his review, he will also look at other universities’ policies to see how TU could create the best possible policy.
The University of Tulsa, Warren said, “is a progressive school; there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be ahead of the nation on how we handle sexual assault and sexual discrimination from both training and active complaints. We should be a model.”
Those who were serving under Paulison have continued in their positions and with ongoing cases, as Warren doesn’t want to abandon the current system while trying to improve it. He has been looped into all the current cases.
After the reviews and revisions of the policies and procedures are completed, Warren’s role will shift to a more active one. He will oversee anyone who has a role in the Title IX process, to ensure they handle each case consistently and with respect to university policies. This way, “it won’t look like one case has a different outcome because a different kind of responsible party. Everything should be handled the same way to make sure we have fairness in the system.”
The other component of his job will be active involvement in each new Title IX case reported. As the point person for each case, Warren will ensure the reporting party has all resources to “fully and fairly” process their claim, but that the responding party is aware of thier rights.
While these roles will devour much of Warren’s time, he also hopes to meet with organizations and participate in every sexual assault programming TU puts on. “It’s one thing to have it on the website; it’s another when we take the time and go out and ask if you have any questions about what’s on the website,” he said, pointing out that sexual assualt is a topic many people won’t broach themselves. When he way be as at TU, Warren participated in many different organizations, and he recognizes that meeting these organizations directly may be a good tactic.
As an outsider, without connection to TU’s current sexual violence programming, Warren plans to determine if any type of programming needs to be added to the current repertoire. “Are we only reaching the fraternities and the athletes right now?” he asked, as an example. “Because there’s a whole segment of campus that doesn’t fit into one of those two bubbles. We need to make sure we reach all of our students.” While well-publicized, well-attended programming is necessary, Warren also wants to ensure TU is “doing the less sexy stuff, more day to day.”
After graduating TU, Warren obtained a law degree from George Washington University. Then he worked for the three years as an associate at a private law firm, advising employeers on how to follow federal law, the majority involving Title VII. Title VII prohibits discrimination based on sex, color, national orgin, ethnicity and religion. It relies on the same line of cases from the Supreme Court as Title IX and is handled similiarly on the court side.
Warren noted TU has changed its response to sexual assualt since his time at the university. Sexual assualt wasn’t a big issue when he attended, which he attributed to past administrations not going after students to make them aware of resources and help they could provide. “I do think there was a greater disconnect beween the adminsitration and the students,” in his time, but the current administration “wants to decrease that distance so they feel like there’s a dialogue, the right way to handle an issue so important.”
The current administration is more proactive. “You have to attribute a lot of that to Dr. Clancy; he’s a psychiatrist,” he added, “He knows first-hand the effects of sexual violence are lifelong, and if we can be proactive in prevention programming, we can make a lalrger differece in the student body.”
But with a rise in programming, sexual assault reporting may rise, Warren said, because people have access to new materials. In 2017, this may mean the school sees a large number of assults, but he “hope[s] that means the long term trajectory is that we really do show we’re creating a safer environment.”
At the same time TU is changing, politics in the greater U.S. are also shifting. The Obama administration pressured universities to more actively combat sexual assault, most notriously in their “Dear Colleague” letter. The Trump administration is moving to change those guidelines, claiming the current system treats the accused unfairly. Warren attributed some of that to normal politics, saying, “some of the language coming out of Washington…is a little bit of grandstanding. If the Obama administration did A, we need to do B.”
However, Warren said he “thinks it’s commendable they want to produce regulation based on notice and comment. That’s the traditional way you get things through.” But, Warren did not agree with the idea universities had become too victim-centric. “It is a fair point when you have a procedure you need to ensure you’re protect the rights of both students,” he said, but he believes TU does make sure the process is fair to both students.
Warren said this ever-changinig nature of Title IX made him excited for his new position and looked forward to helping TU navigate the area.

Post Author: Michaela Flonard