Grand Valley State University’s new Title IX and Institutional Equity Director Kevin Carmody participated in an informational chat and Q&A titled “Coffee with Kevin” on Feb. 16. The talk was held to introduce the GVSU community to the new director and to give Carmody the opportunity to share his passions and plans for change at GVSU.
Carmody is a Central Michigan University graduate who, after years of work in advocacy and violence prevention, started to work as the Title IX director this January. His passion lies in making changes to improve the response to sexual violence experiences and creating a safe environment for anyone to reach out for help.
“Working in housing, I fell in love with student conduct,” Carmody said. “I loved having those transformative conversations with people who had experienced a low moment.”
A new Title IX staff is currently being assembled, with two positions still waiting to be filled. Rebuilding a staff that’s capable of communicating with a wide audience and fine tuning the program are essential aspects of Carmody’s plan to improve the GVSU Title IX and Institutional Equity Office. Policy changes will also be evolving the office’s capacity for reports and responses.
“I worked in inclusion and equity as a student and I just want to be that person that can help students who are experiencing sexual harassment,” said Adrian Hall, Assistant Director of the Title IX and Institutional Equity office.
Carmody said that previous mishandling of Title IX reports has been a huge driver for his willingness to take on the job. The framework of Title IX itself focusing on legalities has hindered the law’s ability to help students in the past, but it’s slowly changing to include discourse from social work and the language of advocacy. These changes will alter the way people think of Title IX.
Partnering with other offices and organizations on campus will be one of Carmody’s main focuses. GVSU’s honest partnerships and willingness to share resources between offices and individuals was another aspect that helped convince Carmody to accept the director position.
“My colleagues in housing and victim advocacy wanted to assist in Title IX and it didn’t feel like just me,” Carmody said. “I started having partners that could assist me in the work that I was used to doing alone.”
These partnerships allowed Carmody to focus on the empathetic but neutral side of his job while someone else was able to take on the more emotional and vulnerable aspects. Handling reports as a team has changed the way Carmody is able to make an impact on students at GVSU.
“My goal is that there should not be a wrong door,” Carmody said. “If a student has an issue and experienced something, they should be able to turn to someone they trust and they should be guided into an office that can help them.”
The idea is that faculty would be trained to build relationships so that students will not have a wrong door to step into. Carmody’s goal is for professors, admissions officers and any other staff to be available as trustworthy allies that will guide students looking for help in the right direction. A key part of this plan is to make it as easy as possible for students to get help without jumping through too many hoops. Carmody wants to keep bureaucracy behind the scenes and true-empathetic relationships at the forefront.
The Title IX and Institutional Equity Office is planning to create a new safe place at GVSU for students to go for help related to Title IX policies. This idea would revolutionize attitudes about reporting sexual harassment on campus. The office plans to spread the word through training and talking to Student Senate, student leaders and other GVSU organizations.
Carmody and the rest of the Title IX and Institutional Equity office will also be focusing on sexual violence prevention by having conversations of consent as early as possible, reaching out to educators and finding new ways to minimize sexual violence cases.
“Students should know that the institution needs to respond and will respond if someone you know and care about is in trouble,” Carmody said.
Students can reach out to the office at any time with questions and concerns about the new staff or any other topic related to Title IX, inclusion and equity. Students are also encouraged to follow their Instagram account @gvsu_tixie to get more information about Title IX at GVSU.