A complaint of unwanted sexual contact between classmates.
A student who wonders if they are experiencing discrimination because of their gender identity or expression.
A staff member who feels uncomfortable with comments made by a coworker.
All of these are complicated and potentially volatile situations that may require advice, support, and action.
That’s where Brittany Brickman comes in. As Clark’s new Title IX coordinator, she is responsible for ensuring compliance with federal Title IX regulations in a campus environment where all students, staff, and faculty are safe from sexual violence, harassment, and discrimination.
While many people are familiar with Title IX as it relates to gender equity in college sports, the law, passed in 1972, actually prohibits all forms of sex discrimination in educational institutions that receive federal funding.
“It really opened the door to eliminate, or at least help prevent, sex and gender discrimination in schools,” says Brickman. “Over the years Title IX has seen different expansions and interpretations, so that it now encompasses how we respond to allegations of sexual harassment, which include sexual assault, domestic and dating violence, stalking, and retaliation.”
Brickman notes that there are common misconceptions surrounding Title IX and her role. She says people often assume that by contacting her they are triggering an investigation that will result in someone being terminated or separated from the University.
“That is far from the case,” she explains. “My job is education- and support-based. You can come to me, and we can get you different supportive measures, whether that’s an academic accommodation, a residence hall change, a no-contact directive — whatever helps you continue in your role successfully, whether as a student, staff, or faculty member.”
The aspect of her job that she finds most rewarding, Brickman says, is ensuring that people experiencing difficult situations receive the support they need. “That’s what I lead my work with: making sure that they know the University cares about them and did something to protect them and support them.”
Brickman is required by the Clery Act to report incidents of crime on campus, but only in vague terms with no specifics. “I don’t disclose any identifying information,” she says. “I don’t have to talk to police beyond that basic reporting structure. I always have the option whether to report to University Police or the local PD, if an incident occurred off campus.” However, Brickman will work with someone who chooses to go to the police and help facilitate the process, but the choice is up to them.
While it’s challenging to keep up with the ever-evolving federal regulations and guidance, which can change under different presidential administrations, Brickman enjoys the policy side of her job. She’s working to make these sometimes-confusing policies more understandable to the campus community.
She is well-equipped to do so. Brickman came to Clark in October from her most recent position as Title IX coordinator at Westfield State University. Her accomplishments there included successfully securing a substantial grant through the Office of Violence Against Women to reduce sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking. Prior to assuming the role at Westfield State, Brickman was administrator of the Title IX office at Worcester State University and ensured that the university was well-prepared to implement the 2020 Title IX final regulations. And for more than 10 years, she held leadership positions in athletics and recreation at Worcester State and Fitchburg State University, where she also served as an administrative Title IX investigator and a member of the sexual assault violence education committee.
Brickman will share her insights and hear from the community in a series of workshops this spring, covering topics such as reporting requirements under Title IX, what happens when a report is filed, and education and awareness around stalking. On Valentine’s Day, February 14, a special workshop will explore the topic of healthy relationships and the role that social media plays in shaping perceptions of what constitutes healthy and unhealthy relationships. For a complete listing of upcoming events, visit the Title IX events page.
Brickman encourages anyone interested in ways to prevent sexual harassment/violence and gender discrimination to reach out to her for more information.
Her message to the campus community is straightforward: “I’m here for you — in all ways, shapes, and forms. Make an appointment with me, even if it’s just to say, ‘Hey, I don’t need your services right now, but I just want to come in and get to know you.’ I’m always here.”
Brittany Brickman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 1-508-793-7194.