By Sara Scheler
Christina Perez, Director of the Study of Women and Gender Program, gave up her sabbatical last spring to accept the interim Chief Diversity Officer (CDO) position.
Perez said the main task of the CDO is to build on the foundation the sisters have laid, implement processes and programs to help people live and work together at Dominican, and prepare students, faculty and staff to deal with a diverse set of people. “Our world is rapidly changing…we cannot expect that our mission will protect us from [inequality].”
Perez works with the Student Diversity Steering Committee to encourage student-centered initiatives. She also advises the Academic Diversity Committee, which holds faculty programs and the Staff Inclusion Committee, which teaches best hiring practices, and oversees faculty and staff workshops that support undocumented and LGBTQ students.
The CDO position was created as a response to the federally-mandated requirement that universities redesign their policies and procedures regarding sexual violence. In 2013, Dominican began this process and, according to Perez, made it “bigger and better, not merely compliant.”
All Dominican employees are now required to report abuse if they see it or have contact with a person who may have been abused. Seven faculty and staff have been trained as Confidential Victim Advocates so far—more will be trained in the future. University leaders have been, and will continue to be, trained in confidential reporting and victim advocacy.
Previously, the Dean of Students handled reports of abuse and there were separate procedures for faculty, staff and students. Perez helped launch a website where anyone can anonymously report a case of domestic violence or sexual abuse.
In addition, Perez has helped re-write Dominican’s Gender-Based and Sexual Misconduct and Bias-Motivated Conduct policies.
The goal of the CDO, according to Perez, is to ensure that “we are serving all students to the best of our ability.”