Student group “Lehigh IX Now” leads an event to educate students about the importance of Title IX in October 2021. The Brown and White published an article investigating the Title IX office in fall 2022. (Leo Liu/B&W Staff)

Title IX office responds to campuswide feedback


Lehigh University’s Title IX office has been working since summer 2022 to address frustrations regarding response times and communication concerning Title IX cases.

Karen Salvemini, equal opportunity compliance coordinator and Title IX coordinator, said increased staffing has been a request to address the increase in workload over the years. In response to this, Edriana Symia was hired as the Equal Opportunity Compliance Investigator & Deputy Title IX Coordinator following the Summer 2022 review. 

Salvemini said the goal of the office is to reduce and prevent instances of sexual harassment while providing information and support.

Title IX ensures that no one is denied the benefits of an educational program because of their sex in any institution that receives federal financial assistance. According to the U.S Department of Education, discrimination on the basis of sex includes sexual harassment or violence, such as rape, sexual assault, sexual battery and sexual coercion.

Symia said one of her responsibilities is managing cases and conducting investigations pursuant to the University’s Policy on Harassment and Non-Discrimination and the Student Code of Conduct.

“I hope that by providing an extra set of hands to work towards (Salvemini’s) vision, (this) allows for what is an inherently complex and often tedious process to operate as smoothly as possible,” Symia said. 

She said coming back to campus has unlocked great memories of her time at Lehigh. She said she wants to provide a space where everyone who comes to meet with her feels they have been treated fairly and their voice has been heard. 

“I recognize that despite my wonderful memories at Lehigh, there was work to be done with the campus culture,” Symia said. “Having that insight into the undergraduate experience and actually seeing Lehigh making such great efforts to provide a space for students to be heard makes me feel a great pride for my school.”

The changes the Title IX Office has made stem from an article published May 2022 from The Brown and White that highlights the stories of three Lehigh students in addition to a professor’s concerns with the office, including poor communication and lack of timeliness, according to the executive summary of the internal Title IX committee

Provost Nathan Urban, who oversees the Equal Opportunity Compliance Coordinator/Title IX office, said these issues were brought to the university’s attention in Fall 2022 after hearing about student experiences from several sources, including The Brown and White.

Edriana Symia,’07, poses in her office in the Alumni Memorial Building. Symia is the Equal Opportunity Compliance Investigator & Deputy Title IX Coordinator. (Liana Secondino/ B&W Staff)

Urban said the article indicated the office should consider making changes to improve the timeliness of responses to reports. 

In January 2022, the Title IX Office was moved from reporting to the Office of General Counsel and began reporting to the Provost’s Office. Urban said this decision was made so that Salvemini now reports directly to him. 

In order to further address student concerns with the Title IX Office, Urban initiated an internal and external review of the school’s Title IX process, which took place in July 2022. 

“We engaged internal and external groups to assess the timeliness and tone of the Title IX investigation process, as well as whether the reporting structure of the office was the best one for supporting the work of the office,” Urban said. 

Urban said the school was able to gain recommendations and has made improvements to the process thanks to outside experts at TNG Strategic Risk Management Solutions on the three main issues of timeliness, tone and reporting structure of the office. 

“The hiring of a Deputy EOCC (Equal Opportunity Compliance Coordinator)/Title IX Coordinator is an important step as are the improvements in the tools for tracking reports and enhancing responsiveness,” Urban said.

Salvemini said she has worked with an external TNG consultant to review policies, procedures and processes for the Title IX Office. 

Sophie Appel, ‘25, said she was unfortunately not surprised to hear there were student complaints in the past about the Title IX Office. 

Appel said the office does not have a big enough presence on campus. 

“It is such an important resource that I feel like everyone should know about it,” Appel said. “That is an office that is here to support and benefit us, so I think it is extremely important to know about.” 

Urban said the Title IX Office is working this fall to enhance the educational programming so the campus community can better understand the various forms of support put in place.

A university survey will also be reinstituted, Salvemini said, so staff can get a better understanding of the campus climate concerning sexual harassment. 

Urban said students should fill out the Campus Climate Survey that will be released later this year via email so the university can gain more insight into next steps. 

“I think its important to note that the most important goal is not having (the) best EEOC/Title IX office in the country, but reducing the incidence of sexual harassment and assault on campus,” Urban said.  

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