March 22, 2024

Young Harris College Assigns New Ombuds Duties to Title IX Officer

The private liberal arts college in Georgia has created an Ombuds program for students and named its Associate Vice President for Policy and Compliance and Title IX Coordinator, Laura Whitaker-Lea, as the inaugural College Ombuds. According to the current student handbook, the Ombuds provides typical services, but confidentiality does not cover Title IX and campus safety issues. 

The full text of the student handbook states: 
The Ombuds provides students with an impartial, informal, and confidential space where they can discuss an issue or matter of concern or a question about campus policy. The role of the Ombuds is to listen impartially, discuss options for resolution confidentially, refer to resources, and assist the student as needed to move toward resolution. Conversations with the Ombuds are kept confidential to the extent legally allowable and consistent with YHC campus safety and security procedures. In situations where information reported may indicate a threat to campus or a member of campus, the Ombuds will contact the appropriate resources to maintain the safety of the campus. The Ombuds is obligated to follow the College’s Title IX policy for reporting sexual misconduct while maintaining the confidentiality of the parties involved in accordance with the YHC Sexual Misconduct Policy. 
Whittaker-Lea has been a senior administrator at Young Harris College since 2018. The website for the Title IX office was updated recently to reflect her appointment as the Campus Ombuds. Whittaker-Lea has worked in higher ed for four decades, including stints at St. Mary's College of Maryland, University of North Georgia, and Mars Hill University. She graduated from Berry College, and earned a MA at Bowling Green State University and PhD at Georgia State University. (Young Harris Title IX, Student Handbook; LinkedIn.)

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