Affirmative Action and Equity Compliance expands role

Karen Baker
Karen Baker

Northern Illinois University is a community of diverse people, ideas, services and programs. The university is committed to providing students, faculty, staff and guests a safe, equitable and supportive environment in which to work, learn and live.

To help NIU fulfill its mission, Affirmative Action and Equity Compliance (AAEC) works to ensure that that the university is devoid of unfair, unequal and/or discriminatory treatment of individuals.

The department, previously known as Affirmative Action and Diversity Resources, is also responsible for the university’s compliance with labor and employment laws and facilitates training and education outreach for the university community to learn about and prevent discriminatory practices.

The name change reflects the comprehensive services and resources provided by the department and underscores the strong connection to the university’s new Office of Academic Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and other equity compliance programs, says Karen Baker, AAEC associate vice president and Title IX coordinator.

“Affirmative action touches the entire university community, but AAEC also administers policies, procedures, laws and provide training in areas such as workplace conduct, employee and labor relations, ADA accommodations and Title IX compliance,” Baker says.

Two additional team members have joined AAEC to accommodate the department’s expanded responsibilities. Rose Henton, director of Coordinated Education, Training and Outreach Programs will facilitate services and education/training efforts required by Title IX, Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and Clery Act compliance.

Rose Henton and Michelle Johnson
Rose Henton and Michelle Johnson

Michelle Johnson is the university’s new Title IX investigator and is responsible for responding to and investigating complaints of sexual misconduct.

“Sexual misconduct is one of the biggest issues currently facing colleges and universities across the country,” Baker says. “Students want to know what to do and who to turn to should they encounter sexual harassment or violence on campus. Our AAEC team is working with various constituencies to inform and educate the university community not only about the available support resources but also in an effort to change behavior.”

In recognition of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, Affirmative Action and Equity Compliance is among the campus partners hosting a variety of educational and engaging events throughout April to help heighten the awareness of the national problem of sexual violence.

AAEC conducts non-discrimination and Title XI training sessions for all new university employees. The department is working to provide online training modules in the future, Baker says.

AAEC also offers training sessions and customized educational programs for university departments. Units interested such training can contact Affirmative Action and Equity Compliance at (815) 753-1118 or aaec_training@niu.edu.

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