Title IX and Equal Opportunity Director Derek DeBobes Begins Role

Ethan Bachand ’22

Chief News Editor

On Monday, March 16, Mr. Derek DeBobes began his job as Director of the Office of Title IX and Equal Opportunity at the College of the Holy Cross. With his appointment, DeBobes looks to bring his previous experience to the College for this new era of Title IX.

One of the key aspects of DeBobes’s candidacy, which was echoed by Jamie Hoag, Director of Government and Community Relations and chair of the search committee, was his previous experience in the field. In an interview with The Spire, DeBobes spoke of his previous experience, saying, “For nearly a decade, I have held a leadership role within the Title IX and equal opportunity arena, spanning across three diverse institutions of higher education in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. As a highly skilled investigator with a law degree and expertise in civil rights law, I have experience interpreting equal opportunity laws and writing and implementing policies and procedures that reflect these mandates.”

Yet, he does not believe this is the only requirement of his position. He continued his statement by stating, “As a seasoned higher education professional, I understand that the law sets a baseline but that truly serving the campus community requires a more nuanced and proactive approach that significantly exceeds what the law would require. As a collaborative leader, I have a proven record of guiding institutions utilizing best practices in the Title IX and equal opportunity field while also developing deep institutional partnerships where we collectively work towards a welcoming and vibrant campus community.”

When asked what made him interested in the opening at Holy Cross, DeBobes said, “I was particularly intrigued by the values and mission of Holy Cross with their emphasis on freedom, mutual respect, and civility. In addition, students are encouraged to ponder the question, “What are our obligations to one another?” This told me that Holy Cross would aspire to develop global citizens who value both service and learning from others with humility. The notion of leading an office focused on civil rights and equity within that broader context was very exciting to me.”

Now, having officially started at the College, DeBobes is looking forward to his first actions on the job. First, however, he plans on reevaluating the existing programs we have first: “I have been meeting remotely with campus community members and reviewing climate and case management data to gain an understanding of how the office has historically functioned and been perceived so I may identify areas for growth and process improvement. The University is committed to supporting the work of this office and has already dedicated resources to increase staffing.”

In terms of increasing staffing, DeBobes said, “One of the immediate tasks I am working on is determining what specific roles would be most useful in supporting the increased charge of the office relative to not only Title IX but also equal opportunity and prevention education.”

With students making the transition home due to COVID-19, the Office of Title IX and Equal Opportunity remains committed to helping the Holy Cross community. In his statement to The Spire, DeBobes explained his plan for reaching students off-campus, explaining, “I have reached out to some student leaders on campus and will be expanding these efforts going forward. As student leaders possess a strong social network and a deep understanding of the campus culture, I believe it is important to ask these students directly how I may best reach and support their peers during this unprecedented time.”

Despite the unusual circumstances under which he assumed his responsibilities, DeBobes remains excited to help Title IX grow and encourages members of the community to reach out to him. “I look forward to working together to foster a safe and inclusive campus where every community member can thrive,” he said. “While I’m making my rounds of introductions remotely, please feel free to reach out to me directly. I would love to hear from you about how we may partner in this important work.”

Photo by Hui Li ’21

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