By Katie Farkas
On January 31, Adelphi welcomed Leah Saxtein as Adelphi’s Title IX coordinator and director of Equity and Compliance. She was previously employed by the New York County (Manhattan) District Attorney’s Office where she has served as assistant district attorney for the past 11 years. Since 2018 she has worked in the trial division of the special victims bureau, sex crimes unit, most recently serving as the supervising attorney in that unit. She will lead the Title IX office “in its charge to sustain and promote a working, learning and living environment
free from discrimination, harassment, sexual misconduct and retaliation of any type,” according to a recent email sent to the Adelphi community by Gene Palma, vice president of University Wellness, Safety and Administration. Saxtein will report to Allison Vernace ’13, chief of community concerns and resolution, who just began her new role in the fall.
“Over the next few months, I hope that Leah is able to become acclimated to Adelphi and engage with our community members through trainings and attending departmental meetings/events,” Vernace said. “In this role, Leah oversees the University's Title IX and sexual misconduct reports and compliance in addition to looking at best practices when it comes to trainings and educational opportunities for the community.”
Saxtein said that all her years of experience helping people from all walks of life navigate sensitive and traumatic experiences will be essential to her new role as Title IX coordinator.
“I have always been passionate about seeking justice for those who were harmed by others. As an Assistant District Attorney, I investigated and prosecuted hundreds of cases involving sex crimes, domestic violence and hate crimes,” she said. “I have spent time with hundreds of survivors, witnesses and defendants and worked with the New York City Police Department, victims’ advocates, counselors and other healthcare professionals to ensure well-rounded support of survivors. I deeply understand the importance of conducting a thorough and prompt investigation to bring resolution to an already traumatic experience. It's with this background and passion that I will support our Adelphi community members with care, sensitivity, discretion, impartiality and professionalism.”
Saxtein said she believes education and transparency are paramount for any community to be and feel safe, welcoming and respectful.
“I will provide trainings to students, employees and faculty on Title IX policy and procedures and other related topics that interest the community. Also, the Title IX office will ensure that the process of reporting, next steps and a potential investigation are transparent and easy to understand. And, my office will be committed to supporting everyone who makes a report by addressing all reports in a respectful, thorough and prompt manner.”
Madison Fisher, a former Resident Assistant (RA) and junior, explained the role of an RA in this type of situation and how they are a safe outlet for students who live on campus and can help connect students with the Title IX office. RAs attend a Title IX training every semester, “so we are trained to support residents that report incidents to us and how to report that information to Title IX,” Fisher said. “Any resident that comes to us with a sexual misconduct report will also be encouraged to speak to Title IX directly and told their rights including who they would like to know, whether they'd like to be involved in the investigation and if they'd like to go to the police and press charges.
“Any resident can report incidents to any of the RAs or Assistant Directors (AD) by emailing us, calling the duty phone, or coming to speak with us in person,” Fisher continued. “They [a student] can come to us during our office hours, catch us in the hallway or schedule a time to meet with us. This goes for any incident that a resident may need to report or speak to us about, whether or not it regards policy or safety, such as feeling homesick. The only limit to reporting is that if an RA or AD is not on duty, we may not be able to stop and talk at exactly the time a resident comes to us.”
All resident halls have someone on duty for emergencies and lockouts between 6 pm and 8 am, Fisher added, and 24 hours on weekends. “Residents can contact us via the duty phone number (different for each building) or by coming to the office from 7 pm and 11 pm (or until 2 am on Thursdays). If a resident has an emergency outside of our duty hours they are encouraged to contact public safety directly or visit the AD office hours for reporting incidents.”
Fisher said anyone not directly involved in an incident can still and should report incidents to RAs or the Title IX office directly.
“If someone has disclosed an incident to their friend and they come to us or someone overhears talk of an incident, it can still be very helpful for them to come to us, public safety or Title IX, as we may not yet be aware of an incident,” Fisher said. “On the Title IX incident reporting form, there is a space to note how you are involved with the incident, and if the information is disclosed to any housing staff or public safety, we will make a note that it was reported by the person who came to us and how they are involved.”
Both the incident reporting form for general incidents and student conduct and the Title IX reporting form can be found on the Adelphi website, and students, faculty, and staff can also seek assistance with any issues through various personnel and offices at the university as listed above.
Fisher emphasized that “residents can and should come to the RA if needed or if they feel more comfortable that way, but to protect their privacy it's important to note that every office on campus reports directly to Title IX in an instance of sexual misconduct, so any student has the option of reporting their incident directly to the Title IX office or even the Garden City police without going to another office first.”
For more information on how to report and who to contact at Adelphi regarding a Title IX issue see “The ABCs to S-E-X: A Guide to Relationship and Health Safety.”