Title IX Staff Increase Sexual Assault Education and Awareness

By Laila Rashid, CHASS Dean’s Office Student Intern
February 9, 2015

Rhonda Dixon, a sexual assault educator in Title IX, began working as one of the most significant resources on campus in 2010. While the position has existed on campus for about eight years, investigations have increased every year due to her presence.

After earning her master’s degree in women’s studies from California State University Fullerton, Dixon worked as a volunteer coordinator in a rape crisis center through Americorp. While there, her passion developed, as she became involved with survivors and completed the state certified training for sexual assault advocacy.

At UCR, she acts as a confidential resource for those who have experienced or have questions about sexual harassment or violence.  While the majority of people who see her are students, she works with faculty and staff members as well.

“Our biggest concern is the person’s physical concern and safety,” Dixon said. While Dixon encourages survivors to report incidents of sexual assault, one of the most important aspects of her position is to help them regain a sense of autonomy after experiencing one. “I love that I am able to help people understand that they can move forward past this devastating event in his or her life,” she said.  “I am the beginning of an individual’s healing process, and for me, that is what gave me the passion.” Dixon provides support and information to individuals to connect them to the proper resources and allow them to make their own decisions. “Whenever an incident occurs, I am the first responder, and the last thing I want survivors to feel is lack of control.” Dixon’s role mainly involves crisis counseling, but she does not investigate or mediate; people often come in simply asking about facts or definitions. “Confidentiality is key, and the main reason why we do not have student workers in the office,” she said. . The only instance in which Dixon cannot promise confidentiality is when informed of a threat of serious physical harm.

While students are generally clear about her role, she, like other campus resources, is working to increase her visibility.  Dixon frequently tables by the bell tower, visits student organizations, and works with other campus resources, like the women’s resource center, to inform others about her position and hold educational events about sexual violence. In addition to spreading the word about Title IX, she is specifically trying to educate people about the importance of bystander intervention.

Dixon has been recently involved in a work group with UCOP (UC Office of the President), which focuses on a higher level of resources, education, and training for students. One of the phases of the project includes developing an advocacy office and maintaining consistency across the UC campuses.  Additionally, she is working on a master’s degree in forensic psychology at Cal Baptist University. Dixon and the Title IX office can be found at 349 Surge building. For more information, please visit http://titleix.ucr.edu.

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