The Title IX structure at Virginia Tech recently reorganized to consolidate the employment and student Title IX units under the leadership of the Office for Equity and Accessibility.
After six years of service, Frank Shushok, senior associate vice president for Student Affairs, stepped down from his role as deputy Title IX coordinator for students on Aug. 1.
“We decided to evaluate our structure to determine if there were opportunities for better coordination, collaboration, and cohesion of our Title IX efforts,” said Kelly Oaks, assistant vice president for the Office for Equity and Accessibility and Title IX coordinator.
Katie Polidoro, previously a Title IX investigator in the Division of Student Affairs, was appointed the deputy Title IX coordinator for students. Prior to joining Virginia Tech in 2014, she worked on issues related to gender-based violence for more than 15 years at community-based organizations. She earned her law degree from Northeastern University School of Law. Her responsibilities include day-to-day oversight of the university’s response to student reports of gender-based violence and harassment.
“I am looking forward to our Title IX colleagues coming together in the Office Equity and Accessibility," Polidoro said. "One of my hopes is to work towards a process that is more inclusive. Gender-based violence is overwhelmingly underreported, and we know that students with certain identities are even less likely to report. We need to be introspective about what barriers exist in our process, and how can we create safer spaces for students to seek help when they need it.”
The Title IX team is composed of Oaks; Polidoro; Nikeshia Arthur, assistant director for civil rights compliance and deputy Title IX coordinator for employees; and Sharrika Adams, Title IX investigator and gender-based violence prevention specialist. Oaks joined Virginia Tech in January 2017 as the assistant vice president for the Office for Equity and Accessibility and Title IX coordinator. She has more than 20 years of higher education-program administration experience in the areas of civil rights, human resources, and student affairs. She is a Virginia Tech alumna, earning her doctorate of philosophy in counselor education in 2010.
Arthur, previously the equal opportunity and affirmative action manager, was appointed the deputy Title IX coordinator for employees. She has a law degree from William and Mary School of Law and received her undergraduate degree from Virginia Tech. Her responsibilities include day-to-day oversight of the university’s response to reports of discrimination, harassment, and retaliation involving employees.
Adams will serve as Title IX investigator and gender-based violence prevention specialist. She earned her doctorate of philosophy in educational leadership and policy from Virginia Tech. She has been a Hokie for 18 years with service in the Division of Student Affairs. Most recently she served as the senior associate dean of students. Adams’ day-to-day work includes investigating cases of gender-based violence involving students.
“I’m glad to continue serving our Hokie community in such a critical way by supporting students in crisis,” Adams said. “In such a trying time for all individuals involved, it’s my goal to be competent, impartial, and compassionate working with students in a trauma-informed, comprehensive, and equitable process.”
In addition to responding to reports of gender-based violence, the team will also focus on awareness and prevention education initiatives.
“We are not addressing the issue of gender-based violence if our work is solely focused on response. We need to find more opportunities to do prevention work. So much of good prevention work is about looking at our culture and finding ways to build a community that does not leave room for harassment and violence,” Arthur said.
“Ultimately, our goal is to have a campus environment free from discrimination, harassment, and gender-based violence in which all members of our community thrive. We hope these changes will result in a stronger team that well help Virginia Tech achieve this goal,” Oaks said.