UVM’s sexual violence prevention and education coordinator now on the job

Eliot Ragles begins work Tuesday as the first coordinator for sexual violence prevention and education at the University of Vermont. Photo courtesy of UVM

Reitz Wiszczyn is a reporter for Vermont Cynic, where Fr. version this story was first published.

The first coordinator for sexual violence and education at the University of Vermont begins Tuesday, just four days after hundreds of students gathered to protest against UVM’s consideration of complaints of survivors of sexual violence and misconduct.

Eliot Ragles was hired Jan. 13 from more than three dozen applicants and will work under Dean David Nestor. Ruggles will have an office at Nicholson House where students and UVM members can attend.

“It is an honor to work directly with the survivors. … and I carry all their stories with me when I think about the preventive aspect of the role, ”Ruggles said. “I’m excited to work and build relationships with students who are really passionate about it.”

Once in place, Ruggles said they will conduct a needs-based assessment to identify what students consider to be gaps in knowledge in their experience.

“Unfortunately, across the United States, we have varying degrees of comprehensive sex education,” they said. “I’m really looking forward to putting into practice some of those comprehensive sex workouts I have.”

Raggles, who graduated from Mount Haliok College and received a doctorate in human sexuality research from the University of Wiedener, specializes in sex therapy, gender-based violence prevention and “culturally competent” LGBTQ + services, according to their LinkedIn profile.

Raggles is a trance, strange and polyamous, they said in a December 1 presentation to the UVM community and practice “ethical monogamy.”

According to the presentation, Ruggles comes to UVM after six years of study at Brown University, where they have managed various education programs with equals. Ruggles previously served as director of the SUNY Oneonta Center for Sexuality and Resources in New York City.

“It’s really a dream job to have a little creative license,” Raggles said at the time. “I’m excited to get started and meet you all there.”

The UVM search committee included Joe Russell, assistant dean for student retention; Maddie Hanson, senior senator of the Student Self-Government Association; Kelly Thorne, sports psychologist and counseling coordinator at UVM; Janelle Micholson, midwife and associate professor of clinical UVM; and Eliza Transition, a sophomore in medicine.

Transition said a number of reports of sexual offenses related to the College of Medicine, and students drew attention to the college’s shortcomings in medical education around sexual violence.

“My most important values ​​are honesty, communication and respect, and these are three things when I interview someone I put in the foreground,” Transition said. “Eliot’s enthusiasm is just flowing care.”

Nestor and Eric Caloyer, the Vice-Rector for Student Affairs, acted as key recruiters and made the final decision based on the committee’s recommendations.

“The search committee conducted an investigation, interviewed and assured that a wide range of stakeholders were involved in the interview process,” Caloyer said.

Thirty-seven people initially applied for the position, but in three to four months the committee narrowed the circle of candidates to three finalists, Hanson said. The committee conducted hour-long interviews with each of the finalists.

The committee was looking for candidates willing to break the rules and exceed the minimum expectations and goals of the post, Hanson said. She wanted someone to play that role without fear of pushing the status quo.

“I very much hope that (Ruggles’ position) will promote a new life and shift the dialogue towards positive sexuality, consent, restorative justice, bringing the perpetrators to justice and ensuring that survivors are heard,” Hanson said.

Henson said she and other committee members hope the post provides for the prevention of sexual violence with a focus on helping those who are black, indigenous and colored, as well as LGBTQ + individuals.

“(The University) cannot now rid itself of any harm they have done, but they must continue to hear the demands of the students, the voices of the students and continue the conversation,” Hanson said. “The conversation doesn’t end with hiring Ruggles.”

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