For the last two years, Elizabeth Schrock has served as the Assistant Dean of Students and Deputy Title IX Coordinator of Whittier College. Dec. 6 is Schrock’s final day at Whittier, as she will be moving on to serve as the Title IX Coordinator at California State University Dominguez Hills.
During her time at Whittier, Schrock has worked to provide sexual assault, and domestic violence prevention programming to students, as well as advising many students to become advocates for social justice. As the Deputy Title IX Coordinator, Schrock has worked with students reporting sexual assaults on campus and conducted investigations, as well as provided support and resources.
As she prepares for her departure, Schrock has begun to reflect on what has been the most impactful work she has done in her positions. She feels that the most important things she has done at Whittier is provide the campus with more sexual assault and violence prevention programming and making students more comfortable in reporting.
“With the students that I’ve interacted with, they’ve told me that there is an atmosphere at Whittier now where students are much more willing to come forward and seek services for support, report to the College, and get more information about reporting to the police,” Schrock said. “Being able to provide students with the services that they have the right to receive [is important].”
Schrock’s fight for prevention of sexual assault and domestic violence began when she joined a social justice student organization in college. After college, she became a crisis counselor and coordinated a youth violence coalition. She also worked at the Veterans Administration Hospital with men with substance abuse problems.
“No matter where I went, I worked with people that had been through traumatic events,” Schrock said. “I felt like even though I was trying to take a break, it followed me wherever I went. I hate to call it a calling, but I knew I would end up working in this field somehow.”
Schrock said she feels as though she is leaving Whittier with more knowledge relating to investigations, compliance, and reporting. “I think that, coming into this job, I had a lot of experience in doing sexual assault prevention programming but not as much experience managing programs, and no experience being the content expert,” Schrock said. “Coming here, I had to learn a lot to be the expert. I learned quickly and I learned that I am capable of being that person, and I think that I gained a great deal of confidence at Whittier.”
Schrock is grateful for the opportunity Whittier gave her, not only to nurture her passion in programming, but to learn more about providing supportive response and investigation. Being able to do both has been one of her most treasured experiences. She will especially miss doing prevention workshops with groups of students, such as the sports teams and societies.
Working with her student workers and interns has also been a significant part of her time at Whittier. For Schrock, it has been especially rewarding to watch students become passionate about social justice and advocating. “What I value most is seeing individual change,” said Schrock. “Systemic changes are the ultimate goal, but I think it’s the most fulfilling to see individual changes in students.”
Schrock is working to ensure that reporting sexual assaults will continue to be encouraged. She said one of her biggest fears is for Whittier to move backward in the progress that the College has made surrounding Title IX.
“I want to feel good about how I’m leaving Whittier but I’m also making sure to transition all of my programs over to colleagues. All the people I’ve worked with on cases, I want them to know who to go to if they have questions or need support,” said Schrock. “I just want to make sure it’s a smooth transition and nothing gets lost.”
Schrock hopes the college will continue to overcome the challenges of addressing incidents of sexual misconduct. “I know that sometimes it feels like change is slow and attitude change is slow,” Schrock said. “It takes a long time for students to trust administration. I hope that any trust I’ve been able to build doesn’t go away with my departure. I hope that people feel comfortable reporting anything risky or threatening and don’t just not report it because I’m leaving. If it’s dependent on one person, then I haven’t done my job.”
Schrock will miss the community as much as she’ll miss the work she has done in the office. “I’m both looking forward to and dreading my going away gathering, because I know I’ll cry because I’m going to miss everyone so much here. I’ve never developed such strong connections with my students and my colleagues, so it makes me sad to have to leave such lovely, wonderful people.”
Schrock’s favorite memories to reflect on may seem trivial to most, but make her smile when looking back. “I’ve had the quintessential Whittier College experiences,” said Schrock. “I’ve run into a mangy coyote up at Harris. I’ve also spent a great deal of time looking for a parking spot, but I’ve gotten rides from campus safety.”
Schrock joked about the many emails of information and advertising programs that she’s sent to the student body during her time at Whittier. “I’ve encountered so many folks that when I first meet them in person, they say, ‘Oh, you’re that Elizabeth that sends out so many emails, its so nice to finally meet you face-to-face,’” said Schrock, laughing. “The small memories will be the ones that will keep me going.” She will miss bringing her dog, Sprite, to campus to visit with the students and bring joy to the Dean of Students Office.
Schrock will also miss helping plan the Lavender Graduation (pictured right) that she has done for the last two years. “One of my favorite experiences was probably hosting the first Lavender Graduation,” said Schrock. “To host the first ever LGBT+ graduation at Whittier College; that was awesome. That was inspirational. Even though it wasn’t necessarily in my job description to advocate for the LGBT+ community, it was very personally fulfilling for me as an out gay professional to be able to do that work on the side and be that person for college students as they’re coming out. I’m glad that Whittier allowed me that opportunity.”
At CSU Dominguez Hills Schrock will be focusing specifically on what she has always wanted to; Title IX. “It’s essentially one step up,” Schrock said. “It’s a really great opportunity for me to learn and grow professionally. People have told me that they’re sad I’m leaving, but I’ve gotten nothing but congratulations. I’ve always wanted to be a Title IX Coordinator since entering this career. This was my goal. People are excited for me, and I appreciate that since I’m excited, too, although I’m really sad to leave Whittier and really sad to leave the students.”
“Elizabeth has been instrumental in creating a culture in which our community feels informed on where and how to report instances of sexual misconduct,” Dean of Students Joel Perez said. “The creation of the support person program is an example of how much she cares about students and making sure they are supported during the process. We will miss her energy and contribution to creating a culture of belonging for our students.”
On Monday, Dec. 5 from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. in Villalobos, the Dean of Students Office will be hosting a farewell gathering open to the community for Schrock to wish her the best of luck and thank her for all she has done at Whittier College.