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Marti McCaleb on the work of Stanford’s SHARE/Title IX Office

The new deputy Title IX coordinator discusses the resources offered by the office and some of the challenges of working in this field.

Stanford’s SHARE/Title IX Office has planned a series of events and educational opportunities throughout April to commemorate National Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM). The next event is the annual Take Back the Night rally and march on Tuesday, April 18, beginning at 7 p.m. at White Plaza.

Marti McCaleb (Image credit: Courtesy Marti McCaleb)

Organizing SAAM events is just one of the many ways the SHARE/Title IX Office serves the Stanford community. To shed light on some of the work of the office and its many resources and educational opportunities, Stanford Report interviewed Marti McCaleb, the new deputy Title IX coordinator and the director of the SHARE Education team who started January 2023.

McCaleb has a wealth of experience in this sphere, having previously served as the Title IX Coordinator at Emory University and at Middlebury College. She is also a yoga teacher, a martial artist, and a self-defense instructor. In addition, she works with a West Coast pit bull rescue organization, fostering and training dogs.


You’ve been involved in violence prevention your entire career. Tell us more about your background.

I worked my way through college as a 911 dispatcher at a large public university. After graduation, I took a position as a sexual assault/domestic violence victim’s advocate and violence prevention educator.

Through law school, I co-facilitated a national sexual violence awareness program and externed with a firm that brought one of the first Title IX lawsuits in the country. As a practicing attorney, I represented individuals in sexual harassment cases and investigated discrimination and harassment complaints for both public and private universities and businesses.

I also served six years on a tri-state campus violence task force, responsible for preparing comprehensive “know your rights” guides for students and employees and drafting legislation to assure due process in campus investigations and protect complainants from retaliation or harassment.

I returned to higher education after a decade of private legal practice to be able to leverage my diverse experience to improve the Title IX process on campus.


What are some of the challenges of working in this realm?

The impact that sex discrimination, sexual harassment, and sexual violence have on both individuals and on communities cannot be overstated. And the real human consequences our work has on the lives of the affected individuals and the community is a constant weight you carry in this work.

Establishing trust with the community is critical, but it’s difficult to combat preconceived notions of what “Title IX” is and isn’t, especially when federal law continues to change every few years. Often what people “know” about Title IX (the law) or Title IX (the office) is based on outdated information or is extrapolated from the media.

Because legally our office cannot comment on specific cases, we often aren’t able to correct misinformation, assumptions, or rumors. However, I hope to share enough proactive educational information about the Title IX process with our community to combat some of the common myths and misconceptions.


What are some of the misperceptions about Stanford’s SHARE/Title IX Office?

The most common thing I see is a misunderstanding about what it means to “report” an incident to the Title IX office versus making a “formal complaint.”

A report occurs anytime we receive information about an incident that has occurred. Reporting is HUGELY important. It allows us to be accountable and have accurate information about what is happening on our campus, to identify trends, and respond appropriately with education, prevention, and/or interventions. It also allows us to reach out to the impacted party and provide the most up-to-date information about their legal rights and options, as well as resources and supportive measures that may be available.

Many people are hesitant to report an incident because they think it will automatically trigger an investigation. This is not the case. In order to initiate an investigation, the impacted party (or in rare circumstances, the Title IX Coordinator) must file a formal written complaint. In this way, the federal regulations and Stanford’s policy are designed to give complainants the power to determine what response or support they want and need.

Another big misperception that I’ve seen in my time at Stanford is that our community seems to believe the office is a purely investigative/adjudicatory function. Statistically, investigations are a very small part of this work, due in part to underreporting, but also to the fact that most reports do not lead to formal complaints.


How do you involve students in the work of the SHARE Title IX Office?

Student voices are front and center of our work. Our student staff and peer educators develop and lead much of our programming.

Beyond Sex Ed, our annual new student orientation training uses real student experiences to explore issues of consent, sex, and sexual identity. Our staff regularly teach courses across campus and work with a variety of student organizations to develop trainings and workshops on relevant issues.


What are some of the resources for those who have been affected by sexual assault and sexual harassment?

For students, some common supportive measures include housing and academic accommodations and support, schedule changes and limitations or changes to campus activities, mutual no-contact orders, assistance accessing counseling, mental health, and medical resources, safety escorts, or other measures individually tailored to mitigate the impact of the situation and allow the student to pursue their education safely and healthily.

Because we recognize that many students are still hesitant to report to us, we also work closely with a variety of campus partners, including confidential resources such as the Confidential Support Team (CST), who can assist students in requesting support.


Helping those who have experienced trauma can be very stressful and many professionals in this field experience burnout. How do you manage stress? 

One word: therapy. Secondary trauma is definitely real, and it’s critically important for me to have professional support managing and processing it in order to hold space for the person I’m working with.

My team and I deal with some of our community members’ most painful experiences, and it’s impossible not to carry that home with you. Many of us come into this work with our own histories of violence and are truly passionate about working to improve the system, to make it fair and equitable and humane.

We don’t want to cause harm or make anyone’s life harder. We all recognize that the Title IX investigation process can be confusing and painful. In both my one-on-one conversations and my public workshops and trainings, I try to simplify and demystify that process. I constantly think about how I can make the process more accessible and less painful.

What helps me prevent burnout is having physical and creative outlets for release, including yoga, martial arts, and most recently, woodworking.


What are your goals for working with the Stanford community on these issues?

One of the things I’m working on with our SHARE Education team is to establish a mandatory four-year education plan for students, and to bolster the mandatory annual training we provide to faculty and staff with targeted offerings on critical topics.

We also want to develop a restorative justice option for our SHARE/Title IX response unit – another choice for students who may not want a formal investigation and hearing, but also don’t want to do nothing. Restorative justice is about healing, rather than simply punishment, and is centered around the needs of the person who was harmed. We’ll be seeking community input and feedback as to what this will look like at Stanford.

I have never been a behind-the-scenes type of coordinator. I want to establish an ongoing dialogue with the Stanford community. My hope for my time here is to be a bridge between the SHARE/Title IX office and the community – to offer accurate and comprehensive information about policies, processes, and prevention efforts, while reinforcing the private and confidential nature of sensitive individual proceedings.