CW: mentions of sexual misconduct, sexual assault and rape
In September 2021, DaQuana Carter, who also goes by Dee, joined the Wellesley College community as the new director of Nondiscrimination Initiatives, Title IX coordinator and Section 504 coordinator. Over the course of her career, Carter has used her training in mental health counseling, law and education to practice law in a wide breadth of fields and to offer her clients both legal and mental health counseling. Carter has dedicated much of her life to supporting victims of sexual misconduct, sexual assault and rape, first as a staff attorney for the nonprofit Women Against Rape and then in her work with Title IX laws. Now, Carter looks forward to working with members of the Wellesley community to maintain a safe, inclusive and equitable environment at the College.
For seven years, before working at institutions for higher education, Carter was a corporate attorney and an associate at Pepper Hamilton, LLP, dealing mainly with white collar crime cases in the pharmaceutical and biotech industries. According to Carter, she left this role as a corporate attorney in search of a job that would allow her more trial practice in the courtroom. She then began working as a staff attorney for the nonprofit Women Against Rape, assisting clients with all legal issues, except for their criminal cases. She worked in family law, civil rights law, employment discrimination and immigration law, among other specialized fields. It was here that Carter decided to return to school to gain counseling skills that would help her to better support victims of rape, sexual assault and trauma.
“I realized that I was a good lawyer, probably a great lawyer … but [my clients] really needed help getting their life back together after suffering such a traumatic, horrific incident … they did not train me for this in law school,” Carter said.
Carter earned a master’s degree in education with a focus in mental health counseling from the University of Pennsylvania. She then worked as an attorney specializing in Title IX before working at the University of Hartford in the dual role of deputy general counsel and Title IX coordinator. According to Carter, she came to Wellesley because she believes in its mission.
“That really resonates with me … to be able to have an impact on so many young [people’s] lives, knowing that their goal … their desire is to make change in their community, this country and the world,” Carter said.
According to Carter, at Wellesley, she responds to all matters involving discrimination, harrassment, retaliation, sexual misconduct and related events that concern anyone in the Wellesley community, whether they are students, staff or guests, on or off campus. As Title IX coordinator, she responds to reports of sexual misconduct or harassment, and as 504 coordinator, she addresses appeals or grievances that people have regarding their 504 accommodation requests. In addition to responding to reports of discrimination and harrassment, Carter, in conjunction with other administrative departments, creates Wellesley policy regarding nondiscrimination and Title IX.
Title IX laws change frequently, requiring the College to update its policies. According to Carter, she is driven to ensure that Wellesley policy not only reflects the law but upholds the College’s values and serves the best interests of members of the community. She also works to provide clarity regarding expectations for conduct.
“Part of my responsibility here is to take a look at our policies and procedures and see where any improvements can be made,” Carter said.
The College modified its Title IX policies in August 2021 in accordance with changes to state law, and previously did in August 2020, in accordance with changes to federal Title IX law under the Trump administration. Carter’s appointment also comes at a time when the Wellesley administration’s strategic plan has promised to renew the College’s commitment to maintaining inclusion on campus.
According to Carter, she looks forward to coordinating more with other departments at the College and engaging with and learning from students. Recently, Carter provided Title IX training for RAs and is scheduled to meet with College Government (CG) to discuss their own Title IX training, cooperation between her office and CG and CG’s needs.
“Is there anything that we can improve? Is there anything that you students are looking for? I always … want to keep my ear to the ground for things like that,” Carter said.
Carter has an open-door policy in her office and encourages students to come and talk to her about anything on their minds. According to Carter, she is available to discuss concerns pertaining to discrimination, sexual misconduct and accomodations, but she also hopes to talk about ways in which she can support the community, to answer any questions and to share her experience.