Kristi Clemens Wants You to Know About Title IX

A Q&A with the new coordinator of efforts to decrease harmful behavior on campus.

Kristi Clemens, Dartmouth’s Title IX coordinator and Clery compliance officer, wants to be sure the College community knows about the resources available through her office.

Clemens, who began work in the position this past spring, had spent eight years in student affairs at Dartmouth, most recently as assistant dean of student affairs and director of case management. She spoke with Dartmouth News about her work, the people her office serves, and about the sport of roller derby.

As you speak with campus groups about the Title IX position, how do you usually start the conversation?

For faculty and staff, they know Title IX in terms of equity in women’s sports. What’s most important is that people know that Title IX is here for all members of the community to ensure that we have a safe community. It ensures access to education and educational opportunities for all. It provides resources and options for folks who have experienced harm—sexual misconduct, sexual violence, dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking—as well as those who have been accused of perpetrating harm.

What are the top three issues that come up when you meet with different groups on campus?

I want the community to know that our office is here to provide support, accommodations, and other resources for anyone who’s experienced harm. The second thing I want to tell people is that my role is to make sure our process is fair. I work closely with the Undergraduate Judicial Affairs Office. I work closely with policymakers here at the College to make sure that the process is fair to all parties involved. Finally, I want people to know that we’re approachable. It’s really important to me that everyone—faculty, students, staff, and visitors to this campus—feel that we’ve created a safe and welcoming environment.

What do you find people are most curious about?

People want to know about the investigation process. What does that look like when the College begins an investigation? We publish what the process looks like, so people can look through it ahead of time.

Another question I get from people reporting that they have experienced harm is, “What do you do with the information that I share with you?” Our office is a private resource. The personal information that people who may have experienced harm share with my office remains here in the office unless they ask me to do something else with it. I do have some obligations under the Clery Act for reporting incident statistics. But that information is reported as aggregate statistical data—number of reported cases of assault, stalking, etc.—without any personal identifying information.

What is the most important part of your work?

A central part of my job as Dartmouth’s Title IX coordinator is to see that all members of the community know I am here as a resource and to ensure that they are aware of the full spectrum of options available to them through the College. I provide information about accommodations and academic adjustments. I provide information about College reporting options and police criminal reporting options. I provide information about support systems, such as the counseling center and WISE of the Upper Valley.

I want people who may have experienced harm to know this: “You have options and you get to make the choice as the reporting party as to what support you need and what action you want to take next.”

What do you find is a common misperception about the work you do as Title IX coordinator?

I think one of the biggest misconceptions about our office is that coming here launches some kind of investigation—a whole process that a person didn’t necessarily intend. That doesn’t happen. I try to present whoever’s sitting in front of me with, "How can I be helpful? What can I do to help you today?"

People who report they’ve been harmed are not obligated in any way. They don’t even have to respond to my outreach. They do not need to meet with us. They don’t have to file a complaint. They don’t need to do anything. But at least I have provided a personal contact and a list of resources if they decide they need these things in the future.

What other questions come up when you talk to people around campus?

A lot of people have heard I’m on a roller derby team—Twin State Derby—and want to know how I got into it.

How did you get into it?

I always wanted to play roller derby. I tell people I grew up roller skating in circles on my block. And as a young person I learned to be tenacious and a little aggressive. I was able to bring those things together to play the wonderful sport of roller derby.

William Platt can be reached at [email protected].