Jennifer Hammat to leave Mason
BY LAUREN SULLIVAN, INVESTIGATIVE EDITOR
Jennifer Hammat, Mason’s current Title IX coordinator, was recently announced as the new dean of students at the University of Southern Indiana (USI). Her resignation comes in the wake of several reports of sexual assault and harassment on Mason’s campus in recent weeks.
The current Title IX office is composed of Hammat and one other employee, Megan Simmons, Mason’s Title IX investigator. Hammat’s impending absence has led Mason to launch a national search for the next Title IX coordinator.
Julian Williams, vice president of compliance, diversity and ethics, spoke to Fourth Estate regarding the qualities they are searching for in the next Title IX coordinator.
They are seeking candidates “with a good deal of subject-matter expertise in the area of Title IX compliance, who can continue to institute best practices as it relates to our policies, practices and procedures.”
Williams also stressed the importance of an individual with very good interpersonal skills who can effectively work with people who have experienced trauma.
Williams will be announcing the interim Title IX coordinator in the coming weeks. “As the volume of Title IX reports has increased over the past two years, we must always prioritize prompt and efficient communication,” he said.
In an interview with Fourth Estate regarding her decision to leave Mason, Hammat said, “The opportunity to be the dean of students was one that was exciting, important and much closer to home,” having grown up near USI.
Hammat said that during her time as Title IX coordinator, there was an increase in faculty and staff reporting. This was due to an increased understanding of mandatory reporting as well as the office’s increased Title IX and sexual assault and harassment prevention training.
“We have engaged the community in an important ongoing and evolving conversation about sexual assault prevention, interpersonal violence and stalking, and that is the impact that I believe we have made in the last three years,” she said.
When asked how she would like to see the next Title IX coordinator improve Mason’s campus, she said she would like to see more students become allies through being actively engaged in peer mentoring and bystander intervention.
“I would also like to see everyone embrace the next Title IX coordinator in the same amazing way that I was welcomed here,” she said. “Mason will always have a very special place in my heart―and I hope the next Title IX coordinator feels the same way about this place. Thank you to the Mason community for the support, collaboration, partnerships and commitment to ending sexual violence at Mason and beyond.”