In a mass email sent to the AUB community on October 3, 2017, President Fadlo Khuri announced the “strategic expansion of AUB’s efforts to address discrimination and harassment,” which entails imperative changes made to the Title IX Office.
The work on institutional policies against harassment and discrimination in AUB began under the presidency of Dr. John Waterbury, who, after receiving complaints at his office, realized that AUB lacked official channels for formal reports and protection.
In 2010, under the chairmanship of then-Provost Ahmad Dallal, efforts to formally implement policies and procedures against discrimination continued, with the instatement of Title IX Coordinator Trudi Hodges in 2014.
More recently, under President Khuri, who is known to be keen on improving anti-discrimination policies and the status of women in AUB, an Equity and Title IX Policy Working Group chaired by Dr. Brigitte Khoury was assembled.
Outlook recently spoke to Dr. Khoury who informed us about the newly established Title IX network across the university and its medical center.
“Last May, a company from the U.S. sent a certified trainer and psychologist, who trained around 55 faculty and staff from AUB. These 55 people, among which 15 have become deputies, could all be potential panel members who review complaints sent to the Title IX Office.”
Dr. Khoury explained that the Title IX deputies are identifiable faculty and staff members who who will be taking in complaints. Panel pool members, however, are staff and faculty who could be called for whenever a panel is needed. She also clarified that the advisory council, which she is chairing, is an advisory body for the President, the administration, and the Title IX Office.
“We overlook policies and procedures and if there are any issues that come up that might need a bit more discussion or advice than a regular panel, we will step in.”
Members of the network differ in their ages, genders, and departments, which Dr. Khoury says is an important element in allowing those who wish to file complaints feel more comfortable.
“It takes a certain type of personality to be accessible to others. Eventually, somebody will be comfortable with somebody.”
In a statement to Outlook, President Khuri reiterated the importance of the Title IX program in increasing awareness on harassment and discrimination and shed light on its impact on the AUB community at large.
“The Title IX program, capably administered by Ms. Trudi Hodges, is an essential program for AUB in order to reduce harassment utilizing education, correction and other means. The program has grown in effectiveness and in uptake, and the number of cases brought to our attention has increased by more than threefold over the two years since we first arrived at AUB. This growth in reporting is a strong indicator of Title IX’s increasing adherence and the growth in community awareness of gender based, sexual and other forms of harassment, and has required the development of additional resources and the training of more staff. It is especially important in protecting students, trainees as well as other vulnerable populations. Title IX is therefore a vital component of a key overall goal of the university, which is to model a fair and just society by effectively addressing any and all forms of harassment.”
Dr. Khoury also emphasized the role of AUB in pioneering policies and procedures against discrimination, including cyberbullying and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, and its ripple effect on anti-discrimination policies in Lebanon.
“MPs such as Ghassan Moukheiber took our policy and presented it in Parliament in hopes of it being implemented in the Ministry of Labor in order to protect employees. This is the kind of impact that AUB has not only on its own campus, but also on a national level. I think it will revolutionize the conditions of work in Lebanon, especially for women because we know that women are harassed all the time. We see it all the time, but there is no law that protects them. This will be the next step.”
The Title IX program also set up a student action committee last year, which Dr. Khoury credits with being “the student champions who serve as peer educators for everybody else.”
She emphasized that their efforts have been instrumental to the expansion and increased awareness of Title IX on campus, particularly to students, whom she believes are “the most vulnerable” community in AUB.