After Cara Wald’s departure from the position, Bethel searches for someone to fulfill a role focused on enforcing Title IX and supporting victims of sexual assualt.
By Soraya Keiser
Since its passage into law as part of the Education Amendments of 1972, Title IX has protected people from discrimination based on sex for education programs and activities that receive financial assistance from the federal government.
The civil rights law states, “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”
Title IX obligations encompass many different aspects of the education system, including recruitment, admissions, counseling, financial aid and athletics. A large part of the law discusses sexual assault and other forms of sexual violence.
Bethel University remains consistent with Title IX, and as stated on Bethel’s website is “committed to maintaining a Christ-centered community, free of discrimination, including sexual harassment in all of its forms.”
All Bethel community members are required to comply with Bethel’s policies regarding sexual misconduct and sexual harassment. If this does not happen, community members can report instances of sexual misconduct or sexual harassment to Bethel’s Title IX Coordinator/Compliance Officer. Employees are required to report instances unless they are confidential resource persons. These people include employees in Counseling Services, the Office of Christian Formation and Church Relations and Health Services.
Cara Wald, who formerly held the position of Title IX Coordinator/Compliance Officer as well as Vice President of People and Culture, announced her resignation Oct. 15, 2021 with her official last day being Nov. 19, 2021. Since Nov. 17, 2021, Dean of Student Success and Retention for the College of Adult and Professional Studies Ryan Gunderson has served as Interim Title IX Coordinator. He has taken on the responsibilities of Title IX Coordinator in addition to his position in Bethel’s CAPS program and will continue to do so until someone new is hired.
The job position for Title IX Coordinator was posted on Bethel’s job listings in early February and was updated most recently Feb. 11.
Vice President of Finance Amy Blaz has been in charge of the hiring process. However, President Ross Allen announced Feb. 10 that Blaz will be resigning from her position. Blaz expects that another cabinet member will transition into the role of manager of the Title IX Coordinator hiring process in the next few weeks.
When asked about the position, the hiring process and the need for an interim coordinator, Blaz said, “At Bethel, we are committed to maintaining a Christ-centered community free of sexual misconduct, sexual harassment, and sexual violence. Our Title IX nondiscrimination policy serves to protect students and employees from discrimination based on sex. The Title IX Coordinator position specifically manages this process for us and is also required by the Title IX legislation.”
Gunderson did not respond to inquiries from the Clarion regarding these topics.
Blaz hopes that the position will be filled by mid-March. Until then, Gunderson remains the contact person for anything related to sexual harassment or Title IX and its policies.