Tina Marisam takes over as Title IX coordinator at UMN

Tina Marisam was named head of the Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action.

University Office for Equal Opportunity Director and Title IX Coordinator Tina Marisam poses for a portrait in her office in the McNamara Alumni Center on Thursday.

Image by Chris Dang

University Office for Equal Opportunity Director and Title IX Coordinator Tina Marisam poses for a portrait in her office in the McNamara Alumni Center on Thursday.

by Natalie Rademacher

Amid controversy over school disciplinary proceedings against football players, Tina Marisam began her role as the University of Minnesota’s new Title IX coordinator and director of Office for Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action this semester.

Marisam has worked for the EOAA for four years and served as the assistant director for the last year. Since stepping into her new role, she’s taken over plans for a new sexual assault policy and plans to bring more awareness to what her office does.

Marisam and her office has also been at the center of an investigation into alleged sexual misconduct by several Gophers football players. Marisam and her office’s investigation has been criticized throughout the University’s adjudication of the players.

“The transition has been a busy one and an exciting one, but I had a pretty good idea of the kind of job I was stepping into and the shoes I would have to fill,” Marisam said.

The previous director, Kim Hewitt, left the University to become the vice provost for institutional equity at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.

“I have had a lot of support from her in the transition,” Marisam said.

As the Title IX coordinator, Marisam oversees sexual misconduct investigations and the University’s compliance with Title IX, which prohibits gender-based discrimination and sexual misconduct in schools.

One of her first tasks has been drafting a new sexual misconduct policy for the University, which has been in the works for almost a year. The new Sexual Misconduct Administrative Policy will combine the University’s existing sexual assault and harassment policies into one document.

Marisam hopes the rule will be easier for students, faculty and staff to understand.

“We are changing the language to make sure it is readable and understandable,” said Sharon Dzik, director of the Office for Student Conduct and Academic Integrity.

OSCAI and EOAA work closely regarding matters involving discrimination and misconduct on campus.

“[Marisam] is great to work with,” Dzik said, adding that she’s worked with her when Marisam held other positions in EOAA.

Marisam says one of her goals is to make sure enough information is available to the public so that they understand the process of responding to reports involving sexual misconduct, discrimination or harassment.

Because of the private nature of the work EOAA does, the general public often misunderstands the office’s purpose, Marisam said.

She said the new policy will be a step toward eliminating this barrier.

Filing a sexual misconduct report can be stressful, and she hopes the new language in the policy will help make the process easier to understand for all parties involved.

The Title IX coordinator also traditionally works with the Minnesota Student Association, said president Abeer Syedah.

MSA has a good relationship with Marisam and plans to collaborate with her on new Title IX training for Community Advisors in residence halls, though these plans are still in the early stages, Syedah said.