UCLA’s new Title IX coordinator has been working to clear up misconceptions about the Title IX Office since his appointment in September.
Mohammed Cato, who previously served as the deputy Title IX coordinator at Western Washington University in Bellingham, Washington, began his term as Title IX coordinator at UCLA on Sept. 25. Since assuming the position, Cato said he has hired two more staff members and plans to collaborate more closely with student groups such as the Bruin Consent Coalition to inform more students about sexual harassment and violence.
The Title IX Office is responsible for UCLA’s compliance with federal Title IX laws. The office implements policies and procedures to prevent and respond to gender discrimination, sexual harassment and sexual violence.
Cato said he has been working to overcome misconceptions surrounding the Title IX Office, such as the idea that Title IX’s policies only concern women. He said he plans to hold more events and forums to encourage people to view sexual harassment as an issue that impacts everyone rather than a specific gender.
“What I’m trying to strategize and think about is, how do we get the community as a whole to see this … as an issue that impacts all of us,” Cato said.
The Title IX Office hired two new investigators in the fall quarter because more students have been reporting incidences of sexual harassment and discrimination, Cato added.
“It’s helpful to have additional investigators to manage the increased workload,” he said.
Cato said he thinks many students are not comfortable when they talk about sexual harassment, adding that he wants to make his office more accessible for students. He said he plans to reach out to more students from marginalized communities to hear their concerns.
“One of the goals of Title IX Office is to create a culture where we can have real and honest conversations about the way we view sexual harassment and violence, and to bring to the table people who are not normally part of the discussion,” Cato said.
Cato added he wants his office to expand outreach to individuals who have not experienced sexual discrimination or harassment to make sure the issue is taken seriously across campus.
“For those who haven’t experienced (sexual harassment) directly, or (don’t) know someone who has experienced it, there tends to be a detachment,” he said. “It’s not part of their reality.”
In fall quarter, Cato reached out to various graduate and undergraduate student groups, including the Bruin Consent Coalition. He added his office has conducted training programs for student groups, including fraternities and the Afrikan Student Union.
Kathleen Salvaty, the University of California systemwide Title IX coordinator, said that during trainings, the coordinator educates students about sexual harassment prevention and talks about the goals of the office.
Ayane Tsutsumi, a third-year anthropology student and co-director of Bruin Consent Coalition, said the group is satisfied with Cato’s leadership and hopes he continues to build a strong relationship with students.
Salvaty added Cato is working to connect with students and be more accessible to them.
“He wants to be visible … he’s just trying to go out and make the connections that are so important,” she said. “He’s very experienced with students, so it’d be great if he continues with that.”