Title IX admin candidate discusses mandatory reporting, campus culture

Gilgour is the first of four finalists for the position.
Joe Gilgour, a candidate for MU’s Title IX administrator position, speaks to faculty and students in an open forum Dec. 3.

MU’s search for a new Title IX administrator continued Wednesday with an open forum for Joe Gilgour, first of four finalists for the position.

Gilgour is currently the dean of student and academic support services at State Fair Community College in Sedalia, Missouri. After an introduction from Vice Chancellor for Operations Gary Ward, who is heading the search committee, Gilgour introduced himself and answered questions from an audience of approximately 20 faculty and students.

Gilgour’s position in Sedalia includes Title IX responsibilities for about 5,000 students across four campuses. In this position, Gilgour said, he discusses sexual assault prevention strategies with other community colleges around Missouri to try to find effective methods.

“There’s no 100-percent accurate way of prevention awareness that’s out there,” he said. “We have to combine our efforts with other institutions that are dealing with the same thing.”

Gilgour said the position at MU appeals to him because it would allow him to focus on policies designed to protect students against sexual discrimination and violence.

“My life calling is to serve students and help students be successful, and a big part of that is Title IX,” he said. “It’s hard to be able to do another job at the same time.”

Regarding UM System President Tim Wolfe’s “mandatory reporter” policy, Gilgour said he believes training faculty should prepare them to talk to students and handle reporting situations.

Gilgour said he wants more incidents to be reported, and to do that, the process needs to be clear and simple.

"Title IX has three steps: Stop the behavior, prevent it from happening again and help the victim,” he said. “In order to be effective, a Title IX coordinator must be able to make change happen.”

Gilgour said changing a campus culture involves getting to know students’ needs and attitudes, especially with a student body as diverse as MU’s.

“We can’t rely on personnel changes to make a difference,” he said. “It’s about education and having a vision for what this campus and culture are going to look like, and getting that vision to people.”

Gilgour said he believes alcohol is not a cause of sexual violence, but it is a common denominator in many cases. He encouraged the university to put pressure on local bar owners to not sell alcohol to minors or accept fake IDs.

“We have leverage,” Gilgour said. “Using that influence wisely is a definite opportunity.”

Naming MU Athletics as an example, Gilgour said he hopes to use leaders of various student groups as a resource to spread the word about Title IX procedures. He said he believes the effectiveness of training for students depends on how it is presented.

“I want to get a variety of students together and get their viewpoint on these things,” he said. “We need to get students in a role where they can help take responsibility.”

Gilgour said he measures Title IX success by student success, specifically the success of victims in academics and other areas.

“I don’t want to teach morals,” he said. “I want to make sure your educational benefit that you came here for still happens ... (MU) is bigger than us and can change someone’s life for the best. When an incident happens that changes someone’s life for the worse, our response can either help or make it worse, and I want to help.”

Three more candidates are scheduled to visit campus for open forums, according to a mass email released Tuesday. Those forums are currently scheduled for Dec. 4, 17 and 18.

Until the new position is filled, Linda Bennett will continue her post as the interim Title IX coordinator.

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