As a proud, actively engaged student at the University of New England, I know our Title IX coordinators have done a great job and are prepared to do more to protect students from gender discrimination and sexual assault. However, I’m concerned about the article “Sex assaults at Maine colleges come out of hiding” (April 30).

Mark Nahorney, dean of students, serves UNE well as a Title IX coordinator and major proponent of Title IX rights on campus. Yet I’m troubled by the claim made in the story that having a trained employee to act as an advocate is “in line with” having a victim advocate on campus. These trained employees are our Title IX coordinators, and while they are caring and well-educated on victims’ rights, they are not the same as a victim advocate.

The Title IX coordinators are obligated to impartiality. Advocates are there for the victim’s support and advocacy alone, whereas a Title IX coordinator must fairly serve both the complainant and the accused and provide equal services.

Advocates can remain with the victim through medical examinations, evidence collection, police interviews, counseling, legal advocacy and support. These roles are inappropriate for the deans and administrators who act as Title IX coordinators and would complicate the situation if performed by a coordinator with a duty to remain objective.

Furthermore, there is the problem of discretion versus confidentiality. Most mandatory reporters can promise discretion, but not confidentiality. A victim advocate can promise confidentiality.

As wonderfully supportive and dynamic as our Title IX coordinators are, using them as advocates is simply not on par with having a bona fide victim advocate on campus. It would benefit every institution to hire an advocate to work in tandem with Title IX enforcers.

Shannon Cardinal
Biddeford