As women redefine society’s classic role for them, education is a great equalizer. TU’s recently hired Title IX coordinator, TU alumnus Matthew Warren (BA ’06, MA ’09) is here to ensure an educational environment free from sex discrimination.
“This is a very exciting time to be in this subject matter because we are going through a national movement. You can look at the #MeToo campaign,” Warren said. “Every week, it seems like there is a new survivor feeling comfortable about reporting an incidence of sexual misconduct. That is wonderful. This is the perfect time for universities to make some significant changes.”
Title IX is a federal law passed in 1972 declaring that no educational institutions that receive federal funding can discriminate on the basis of sex, which greatly influenced the treatment of female college athletes; but now, Title IX protection is enacted before a student steps on campus. “It applies to our recruitment efforts, our admission efforts and failure to hire, promote or give tenure based on sex,” Warren explained.
Sexual assault is covered by Title IX. If a university does not take sexual assault or harassment reports seriously, they are fostering an environment that deprives students of the ability to get an education. “Here at TU, that’s not how we operate. You will be believed, and we will do everything we can to both provide you the resources that you need and help you complete your education,” Warren said.
As a high school state debate champion, Warren had a penchant for advocating for fairness and equality, which sparked his law school plans. “I thought there was a direct parallel to debate and being a litigator,” he said. Coming from a farming family, Warren’s parents assured him the ranch life is always open to him, but if he wanted a different career, keep his options open. “They said, ‘You should look at being a doctor, a lawyer or an architect.’ Those were the three options,” Warren laughed. “I really don’t like blood. No thank you on that one.” Law school became the goal.
During his undergraduate years at TU, Warren never strayed from his law school path. By winning the highly competitive and distinguished Harry S. Truman Scholarship his junior year, he furthered his plans to use his law education for public service. For months, Warren prepped for his Truman scholarship interview. “I was so impressed how faculty and staff took time out of their days to set up mock interviews for me,” he said. “That was a great highlight of my time here at TU.”
Unexpectedly, Warren’s greatest academic achievement was followed by the loss of his mother. “TU was wonderful during that time for me. I had professors come to her funeral,” Warren said. “They even put her in the in memoriam list in the graduation program. We are actually listed in the same program.” While taking care of his mother’s estate, Warren completed a master’s degree in English literature at TU.
Fulfilling his high school dreams, Warren attended George Washington University Law School with his law school class bigger than TU’s undergraduate class. “Law school was kind of like high school,” he said. “You have lockers in the hallway, and you do everything together.”
The law school climate bolstered his off-to-save-the-world mindset, and Warren was ready to don a cape. After working for Oklahoma Federal Judge Timothy DeGiusti, he prosecuted sexual assault cases at the Tulsa County District Attorney’s office. And after a stint in the Oklahoma Attorney General’s office, Warren practiced at Conner and Winters on employment defense. “You get to a point in your career as a lawyer where you are either going to go all in on this partnership track, and you can see the next 35 years of your life, or you take that experience and you dovetail it into something else,” Warren explained.
When the Title IX Coordinator position became open, Warren melded his experience in sexual assault prosecution and knowledge of employment law into a well-suited job. Back to his old stomping grounds, Warren has a goal — “to make sure the students who are here today also have the kind of experience that I had because I had a life-changing experience here,” he said. “I know that college has that power.” For all those individuals with a “me too” on their lips, TU is here to help ensure a life-changing event never turns into a life-defining moment.