The University of Maryland announced Tuesday it will fund six new positions across two offices to further address sexual misconduct, according to a university statement.
The decision comes after the SGA voted in September in favor of an annual $34 student fee to assist the funding of the Office of Civil Rights and Sexual Misconduct and after Student Government Association executives met with university President Wallace Loh on Sunday to discuss the issue.
“Earlier this year, we approved funding for three new OCRSM staff positions, including a deputy director, a sexual misconduct investigator and a standing review committee coordinator,” the statement read. “And effective immediately, we have approved new funding for another sexual misconduct investigator.”
University administration has also approved two new positions in the CARE to Stop Violence office “to increase counseling and outreach efforts,” according to the statement.
Loh and Linda Clement, the university’s Vice President of Student Affairs, arranged a meeting with three SGA leaders — President Katherine Swanson, Vice President of Student Affairs A.J. Pruitt and chief of staff Mark Russell, Pruitt said.
At the meeting, the administrators said they wanted to increase funding for the OCRSM and did not want to pass the burden onto students, Pruitt said.
Pruitt, who originally proposed the Title IX fee, said the fee proposal would stay on the table for now, but he was “very happy with the progress.”
“Six additional positions are a great start,” Pruitt said.
Pruitt said he and Swanson will meet with Loh again Friday to continue the discussion. Moving forward, Pruitt wants to assure providing sexual misconduct resources is a priority for administration. One of his main concerns is that the current agreement does not address prevention of sexual assault, he said.
University spokeswoman Crystal Brown said she believes the administration and SGA are “well-aligned” on the issue, and the administration “has the same goals SGA has in terms of supporting the Title IX office and funding Title IX.”
“The university supports the advocacy efforts of the SGA on these issues,” Brown wrote in an email. “We have the same goal: to properly fund the Office of Civil Rights and Sexual Misconduct and ensure that the necessary resources are provided to execute the important work of this office.”
The university currently spends more than $2 million a year on preventing and investigating sexual assault across all offices, which include CARE to Stop Violence, the University Health Center, Office of Student Conduct, Office of the General Counsel, Office of Resident Life and the Counseling Center, according to the statement. More than $1 million of this money is allocated for the Title IX office, up from $725,000 in fiscal 2016.
But Catherine Carroll, the office’s director, has said her office is “under-resourced” and “under-staffed.”
In an Oct. 12 guest editorial in The Diamondback, Carroll urged students to support the SGA’s fee proposal.
“Additional resources are needed to properly handle our growing caseload and — critically — to expand education and prevention efforts across the campus,” she wrote. “The responsibility for this effort does not rest with any single group … The fee would generate $1 million in revenue for hiring additional investigators to help conduct investigations promptly, and a full-time prevention manager to coordinate campus-wide prevention efforts and set aside funds to support student-led prevention initiatives.”
The SGA voted 32-1 to approve the Title IX fee with no abstentions on Sept. 28, The Diamondback previously reported. The fee will be brought to the Committee for Review of Student Fees in the coming weeks, and if that committee approves it, it will be sent to Loh’s desk.
Should Loh approve the fee, the University System of Maryland Board of Regents would then have the deciding vote.