by LAUREN SCHUSTER, Asst. Features Editor
While she may be new to Manhattan College, Sheetal Kale, J.D., is no stranger to working with anti-discrimination law. Before taking her new position as director of diversity, equity and chief Title IX coordinator here at MC, she worked in a variety of positions as both an attorney and as legal counsel for Barnard College and TCS Education, a network of nonprofit higher education institutions aimed at helping students from underprivileged backgrounds.
“My two passions are social justice and education, and this was kind of the perfect opportunity to combine the two,” Kale said.
Unlike Kale’s past positions, however, her current position at Manhattan College gives her the unique opportunity to work with faculty, staff, and students all at the same time. This allows her to truly get to know the college community on all of its various levels and help everyone on campus to feel safe from harassment and discrimination.
“I see a deep commitment to addressing diversity and sexual misconduct among all members of the administration [here] and that’s really great to hear. They’ve been really supportive,” Kale said.
Going forward, Kale will work with various offices on campus like human resources and admissions to ensure that everyone considered for both employment and admission at the school is treated in a fair and unbiased manner.
As chief Title IX coordinator, Kale is also responsible for addressing issues that fall under several different levels of sexual harassment laws.
“Not only are we beholden to the DOE, which administers Title IX, we are beholden to New York state law 129-B. We’re also beholden to New York City law, which is in some ways a little bit stricter for employers. There’s been a new law passed in the state and the city with increased training requirements for employers who have fifteen or more employees regarding sexual harassment,” Kale said.
In addition to Title IX, city and state laws, the school also must adhere to NCAA regulations in situations involving the various campus athletic programs.
“If you imagine a venn diagram, we fall within all those laws and regulations,” Kale said.
Kale’s biggest hope is that going forward, the school will not only comply with laws like Title IX, but will go above and beyond to serve the school community in the best ways possible. If the school does not follow federal regulations like Title IX, then they are at risk for losing their federal funding, but Kale aims to go far beyond the basic requirements.
“I’m also working with Brother Jack to incorporate our mission into our policies so not only are we compliant, that goes without saying, but also that we elevate our practices to ensure that we are doing everything we can to be Lasallians, to respect one another,” Kale said.
Kale also wants students to feel comfortable sharing their ideas and concerns with her so that she can get a better idea of how to improve things for them.
“I want [the students] to know I’m really open to listening to their concerns. I think that it’s easy for me to come in here as a civil rights attorney, as somebody with an investigations background, to impose what I think is the best thing to do, but that’s not what I want to do. What I want to do is address the particular needs of the college,” Kale said.
Overall, Kale’s work will aim to ensure that all members of the MC community experience a fair, as well as legally compliant, process in any situation regarding sexual misconduct or discrimination in their time here.