Earlier this month, Jessica Landis joined the DePaul community as the university’s new Title IX coordinator. Though she has only been on campus a few weeks, her work and commitment to sexual and relationship violence awareness, prevention and response go back to her undergraduate career.
“During my time as an undergraduate student I created a peer-led sexual assault prevention group. I did my graduate work researching sexual violence prevention on college campuses and originally thought I was going to teach,” Landis says. “But my graduate assistantship was in the division of student affairs where I had the opportunity to work with students, faculty and staff one-on-one. That’s when I realized I preferred engaging in work outside the classroom.”
As DePaul’s Title IX coordinator, Landis is responsible for overseeing the training, education, communications and administration of complaint procedures in the areas of sex discrimination; sexual harassment, violence and misconduct; domestic violence; dating violence; and stalking. This also includes overseeing the response to and investigation of reports made by all faculty, staff, students and third parties to ensure a fair and equitable process for all parties.
“This work is delicate and difficult, but it’s important,” Landis says. “Everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect, which is the real basis of Title IX. Specifically at DePaul, we do it not only because it’s the right thing, but also because it’s who we are.”
Before coming to DePaul, Landis spent five years working at Loyola University Chicago, focusing on conflict resolution and student conduct, and as the assistant dean of students and Title IX deputy coordinator. Prior to her time on Chicago’s Northside, she worked at a number of institutions in student affairs, an Ombuds Office, a women’s center and as a resident assistant. It’s this wide range of on-campus experience that Landis feels gives her a unique perspective to Title IX work.
“I’ve had the opportunity to understand Title IX from every angle – from student advocate to peer mentor to investigator to trainer and decision maker,” she says. “I learned something new in each of those positions, and am excited to put that experience to work at an institution with a mission I connect with. I was drawn to DePaul because not only does the Vincentian mission teach us to work for justice, but also it compels us to continually look inward and ask ‘What must be done?’”
In the coming weeks and months, Landis plans to continue listening to university community members and partners about what the campus needs.
“A lot of my job is just that – listening,” she says. “And that’s one of my biggest tasks for the fall quarter, besides trying to navigate a new campus! It’s been encouraging to see how much work our campus partners do on a daily basis with Title IX – from designated groups, like the Sexual and Relationship Violence Prevention and Response Working Group
, to faculty and staff members who help students find resources they need. It takes a lot of effort from many people to make DePaul the community that it is, and I’m happy to see so many people already striving to set us apart from other institutions.”