Ann Todd Appointed Deputy Title IX Coordinator of YU
Ann Todd, a Title IX investigator and consultant, recently joined Yeshiva University’s Title IX Office as deputy Title IX coordinator, announced Vice Provost for Student Affairs and Title IX Coordinator Chaim Nissel via email on Thursday morning, March 10.
Title IX is a federal law that requires universities to investigate sexual assault and harassment claims on campus. Todd’s appointment comes in response to recommendations made by a university committee that was formed after the alleged mishandling of a rape case last year, which brought YU’s compliance with Title IX into the public eye.
In her role, Todd will assist students with all Title IX and sexual harassment and assault-related issues, Nissel wrote. He added that Todd will help YU launch a new website dedicated to sexual assault and harassment-related issues and help the university “expand our educational programs,” two of the committee’s other recommendations.
The Title IX Office for undergraduates was composed of Nissel and Associate Dean of Students Joe Bednarsh who held the role of deputy Title IX coordinator. At this time, it is unclear if Todd comes in addition or to replace him.
According to her LinkedIn page, since August 2014, Todd has worked as the Title IX and Clery Act investigator and senior consultant at D. Staffords & Associates LLC, a consulting firm that specializes in campus safety and security, including compliance with state and federal law regarding sexual assault and harassment. In his email, Nissel wrote that Todd, who has a JD from the University of Nebraska College of Law, “has conducted hundreds of external investigations on behalf of colleges and universities” on issues relating to sexual violence and discrimination.
Before working at D. Staffords & Associates, Todd worked in Davidson College as its manager of training and development from 2007 through 2010. Nissel’s email says she worked as Davidson College’s associate director of human rights and deputy Title IX coordinator for eight years, though Todd’s LinkedIn says she worked in the associate director position for five years and does not mention the Title IX position.
While the announcement of Todd’s appointment came today, she has already begun working on Title IX issues at YU, specifically with the case from last year.
After Nissel told the female student back in May that its investigation did not prove that the other student had violated its policies, she requested an appeal of her case, which was rejected. Then, in the beginning of February, the woman again emailed Nissel requesting that YU review evidence that its investigators had not retained in its initial investigation, such as her rape kit and interviews with some of her friends. Nissel responded that he will determine if YU can do this. After a few weeks of silence and a brief email exchange, the student received an email from Todd on March 2.
The two spoke that day, but for the female student, the roughly 15-minute call went south shortly after it began. “At first, she was friendly over the phone, and then she basically said that it doesn’t matter that [the investigators] don’t have the kit because they already went through all the evidence,” the woman told The Commentator. “She didn’t seem to have answers, and she was basically saying that the school didn’t violate anything, but she wouldn’t explain why.”
The student said that Todd spoke to her about an issue related to her case that she requested The Commentator keep private. Even so, she does not feel reassured by Todd’s appointment. “I don’t know Ann Todd’s background, but after that one phone call, I don’t think she’s the right person.”
The Commentator reached out to Todd and Nissel regarding that phone call, but as of publication, neither has immediately responded to the paper’s inquiries.
Dean of the Undergraduate Faculty of Arts and Sciences Karen Bacon, who headed the committee formed after the anonymous student’s article was published, felt the addition of Todd was a positive development.
“It is a very welcome first step,” she said regarding Nissel’s announcement. “And I know it will lead to further steps as the other recommendations are implemented. I believe I share with all the students a feeling of gratitude to the University for moving us forward in this very important matter.”
Cayla Muschel (SCW ‘23), co-president of the Students Against Sexual Assault Club, felt similarly. “Having an experienced coordinator whose primary focus is Title IX has been in the works for a while,” she said. “This is excellent news.”
While Muschel was not spoken to by the university regarding Todd’s appointment, she has been sharing feedback and ideas with Bednarsh regarding YU’s planned website for sexual assault and harassment. Looking toward the future, Muschel added, “The next step is following through on the other parts of [the committee’s] letter: reformed harassment training and widespread access to resources, information, and SHARE counselors,” which stands for sexual harassment and assault response & education. In his email, Nissel noted that those aspects will be forthcoming.
For the anonymous student herself, she is also hoping for something better. “I just want YU to change, to change their policy,” she told The Commentator, “if not for me then for other people.”
Photo Caption: Todd’s appointment was announced on March 10.
Photo Credit: LinkedIn