BY ANNA KANE ’20
On April 18, President-elect Sonya Stephens announced the appointment of Shannon Da Silva as Mount Holyoke’s new Title IX and Section 504 coordinator. After a national search headed by Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students Marcella Runell Hall and Five College Director of Compliance and Risk Management Stacie Kroll, Da Silva began her term at Mount Holyoke on April 19.
Da Silva comes to Mount Holyoke from Hampshire College, where she served as part of the Title IX team and specialized in prevention efforts against violence and sexual assault. According to Stephens’ email announcement, Da Silva has a background in social justice organizing and social work, including support for trauma survivors. She has also worked on campaigns aiming to end police brutality, increase the minimum wage and move toward national immigration reform.
“Shannon is a welcome addition to our community,” said Hall. “She has an impressive background in community organizing and is interested in partnering with campus stakeholders to create more equitable and inclusive training modalities, as well as exploring restorative justice practices.”
As Title IX coordinator at Mount Holyoke, Da Silva will be responsible for the coordination, oversight and investigation of discrimination complaints, accessibility requirements and the assessment and resolution of violations of Title IX and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. She will also be responsible for providing support to the diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives on campus.
Da Silva is slated to work closely with Senior Advisor to the President and interim Title IX and Section 504 Coordinator Lenore Reilly in the coming months. She will also report to incoming Chief Diversity Officer Kijua Sanders-McMurtry when Sanders-McMurtry arrives at Mount Holyoke in August.
Reilly has held the interim position since former Title IX coordinator Renee Davis left the College in May 2017 to serve as Title IX coordinator at Brown University. Davis had worked at Mount Holyoke for 14 years.
Da Silva comes to the position in an era where Title IX is the focus of a national conversation. In September, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos rescinded Obama-era guidelines for the handling of sexual misconduct and assault on college campuses.
More recently, two bills, H.4159 and S.2203, are pending in the Massachusetts Ways and Means Committee. H.4159 would require that an anonymous statewide survey be issued to campuses to measure instances of sexual assault, while S.2203 is expected to help students better understand their rights pertaining to sexual assault on college campuses.