Created by the Office of the Provost, the Office of Equity and Inclusion opened its doors this month. The office handles diversity training, sexual assault cases and ensures the University follows discrimination policies at both the University and federal levels, according to the Provost’s website.
With the formation of this new office, Equal Opportunity Programs (EOP) and Access, Disabilities and Resources (ADR and formerly known as the Office of Disability Resources) are united by one parent office to centralize resources to the Emory population. The office officially began business on Sept. 1 under the leadership of Associate Vice Provost and University Title IX Coordinator Lynell Cadray, as reported by a Sept. Office of the Provost press release.
Cadray has almost 30 years of experience with discrimination and diversity policies. Nineteen of those years have been with Emory at the Nursing School, Emory Law and now at the University-wide level. Cadray said in a phone interview with the Wheel that at Emory Law, she was the dean of admission and chief diversity officer, later serving as assistant dean for admission & student services at the Nursing School.
Title IX is the federal statute that protects students in education programs from sexual assault and harassment. The statute outlines guidelines in how this is to be handled by educational institutions such as Emory University and this new office coordinates compliance University-wide. Cadray oversees the University-wide compliance and is the ultimate authority in determining internal responses after a violation of Title IX, including cases of sexual assault.
According to Cadray, the new office is an “umbrella office” that oversees Title IX compliance, equal opportunity programs, disability services and harassment policies. Thus, the office is focused on both compliance and educating the Emory community on diversity within the University.
The creation of the Office of Equity and Inclusion comes after Emory was named on a list of 55 higher education institutions under investigation for possible violations of Title IX over the handling of sexual violence and harassment complaints in a May 1 press release by the U.S. Department of Education.
Dean of Campus Life Ajay Nair wrote in an email to the Wheel that Campus Life was excited for the new Office of Equity and Inclusion and further stated, “coordinated efforts between Campus Life and the Provost’s Office will allow for a more socially just and inclusive community.”
Unique to the Emory discrimination policy from federal and state discrimination law, the Office also includes sexual orientation and gender identification as protected characteristics. Cadray said that she believes this is important in order to have a community of inclusion that makes everyone feel safe in the University.
The Office of Equity and Inclusion also provides diversity training in hiring practice and admissions in the various divisions of Emory including the College of Arts and Sciences, Business School, Law School, Nursing School and Public Health School, according to Cadray.
The office also ensures that students with disabilities are able to attend Emory in a barrier-free environment, according to the Access, Disabilities and Resources’ mission statement.
As stated on the ADR’s website, this includes following provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1992 that provide standards for accessible buildings and handicapped restrooms.
The Office is also responsible for guaranteeing that students with learning disabilities are given accommodations in the classroom, such as extra time on tests and exams.
Cadray views the response by the University after a violation as a systematic approach with safety to students and staff as a top priority. She says that the new Office works behind the scenes of the University to ensure every member of the Emory community is protected from discrimination and harassment.
Describing her role as leader of this new office, “I can be a voice for all,” Cadray said.
– By Peyton Pair