Aerial view of CWRU campus, courtesy of social media ambassador Santosh Hanumanthu.
Photography by social media ambassador Santosh Hanumanthu.

The Office of Equity is there for you—here’s how

The Office of Equity’s work can seem mystifying if you’re unfamiliar. But it all boils down to one thing: support. All members of the Case Western Reserve University community are covered by the Office of Equity, which supports anyone on campus impacted by any type of discrimination—this includes discrimination on the basis of race, national origin, ethnicity, age, gender, sex, religion or any other legally protected class status.

Supportive measures can look different—and be very creative—to help all members of the CWRU community study and work in a setting free of discrimination and harassment.

As needed, the office conducts investigations to determine whether or not sexual harassment of gender-based violence occurred. A separate process exists for other forms of discrimination and harassment. 

No one is required to engage with the Office of Equity to receive support, but the staff is available for those who want it, including those who have been accused of violating a policy. Some individuals are not seeking support, but instead want to simply ensure there is a record of something that happened in case a future situation arises.

If you would like support from the Office of Equity, there are several ways you can get in touch. Call 216.368.3066 or email to request a same-day appointment. If you need assistance with an urgent after-hours matter, call or text 216.327.4160 or email

We spoke with Rachel Lutner, vice president of equity and Title IX coordinator, to find out what the office’s work looks like in practice. Read on to learn a few ways you can receive support through the Office of Equity at CWRU.

1. Trained advisors are available to be by your side.

Everyone who engages with the office is entitled to an advisor—someone who can advise, support and offer guidance throughout an investigation or hearing. While individuals can select anyone to be their advisor—even those not affiliated with the university—the Office of Equity trains volunteer advisors who are available to assist those who would like it. Learn more about how to become a volunteer advisor.

2. The office works closely with university partners and can provide referrals to other campus and community resources.

Almost all CWRU employees are required by university policies to share information with the Office of Equity when they know any person might be impacted by any form of discrimination or harassment. 

The Office of Equity works very closely with the Flora Stone Mather Center for Women, and the confidential advocate in particular. The confidential advocate is one of the employees on our campus who is not a “responsible employee,” meaning they are not required to share information with the Office of Equity. 

The confidential advocate is an expert in working with students, faculty and staff members who might be dealing with any form of gender-based violence, domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault or stalking. When someone is looking to talk to someone who won’t share their information, the Office of Equity will make a connection.

The CWRU Police Department also is a partner. The office receives information about police reports in which somebody might be experiencing or accused of a form of discrimination or harassment. Someone from the office then reaches out to those individuals to offer support. 

Additionally, the office often connects students with counseling services and works closely with student affairs. 

3. Academic support is available and can take many forms.

Experiencing discrimination or harassment—even if it’s not happening on campus or by another member of our community—makes it harder to learn. For example, a student might have a partner not connected with CWRU that is subjecting them to emotional violence. While they might be physically sitting in class, they won’t be able to focus effectively.

Or, a student who has experienced some form of sexual assault might go to the police and the hospital for a forensic exam, which could take all weekend and mean they’re not going to be ready to take a test Monday, Tuesday or possibly at all the next week.

The goal is to make it so that experiences with discrimination and harassment don’t negatively impact academics.

The office arranges for excused absences and extended deadlines. Sometimes they also can offer alternatives for assignments, a change in testing location or arrange for a student to work in a different group or on their own for projects.

4. No-contact directives and Persona Non Grata orders can be issued to limit your contact with another person.

A lot of the things that the Office of Equity does to support members of our community can be done right away without an investigation. Supportive measures from the Office of Equity are free-of-cost, non-punitive measures that can be implemented right away to support somebody in the community. 

No-contact directives, for example, are issued to both people so they go both ways. They can solve a lot of problems. The office also can arrange for a student to move to a difference residence location so the other individual doesn’t know exactly where they live. Persona non grata is a form of no trespass. 

5. There are many other ways the office can design solutions to make you feel safe.

Some students need to live in a residence hall near the police department to feel safe, or they might not be comfortable living on the first floor of a building. Or, maybe a situation affecting a student’s roommate is making them feel unsafe. In those instances, the Office of Equity will step up to find solutions that will help the student.

Other ways the Office of Equity has assisted students include efforts to ensure they don’t run into a particular person while working on campus or checking a class roster before a student signs up.

The measures taken can get creative when needed.