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Falk Dean Diane Lyden Murphy details role as co-chair of sexual and relationship violence task force

Courtesy of Syracuse University

Diane Lyden Murphy, the new sexual and relationship violence task force co-chair, has a background in social work, four degrees from SU, five daughters and is a feminist scholar.

Diane Lyden Murphy, dean of the David B. Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics, co-authored Syracuse University’s original sexual harassment policy. She served as the director of the women’s studies program for 17 years.

Now, she’s taking on a new role. This year Murphy will start as the new co-chair of the Chancellor’s Task Force on Sexual and Relationship Violence.

Murphy will replace Joanna Masingila, dean of the School of Education, who stepped down from the co-chair position at the end of last year.

Masingila has served alongside current co-chair Rebecca Reed Kantrowitz, senior vice president and dean of the division of student affairs, for the past two years since the task force was established.

“I think the chancellor and so many of us have a lot of respect for (Murphy),” Kantrowitz said. “She is someone who has been thinking about and working on these issues for decades.”

The 30-member task force works to identify ways the university could improve sexual and relationship violence awareness. The task force includes counselors, students and speakers at meetings.

In the past, task force members have supported campaigns and events on campus like Take Back the Night, the “It’s On Us” Campaign, Think About It and Speak About It. The task force intends to continue supporting these programs.

Murphy said people need to know how sexual and relationship violence at college occurs and how to respond to it.

Most victims of sexual and relationship violence know their abuser, Murphy added. Two-thirds of sexual assault victims between age 18 and 29 had a prior relationship with their offender, according to the National Institute of Justice.

“It’s having these discussions, and it’s empowering young women to have these discussions,” Murphy said. “So that they can stand up and say, ‘I like you, but I like you on these terms, with this distance and with this level of intimacy.’”

Murphy also said she wants to get more men and male student-athletes involved in the advancement of education on sexual and relationship violence.

“It’s very important to have men involved as models,” she said. “Women just shouldn’t do this work alone. Men are very interested in this also. It’s not just women’s work.”

During her time as Falk dean, Murphy was involved in creating and implementing several new majors and units at the college.

Murphy helped found the sports management major, Falk’s department of health and wellness and collaborations with other colleges such as dual degrees between Falk and the Martin J. Whitman School of Management.

The new co-chair has been a student, faculty member, professor or dean at SU since 1963. In that time, she has implemented programs promoting gender equality and women’s rights.

Murphy also helped found the women’s studies program and was director of that program for 17 years before stepping down to become Falk’s dean.

“She has long been involved in these issues so I think she was a very good choice by the chancellor to work with (Kantrowitz) on this task force,” Masingila said. “I’m sure she will bring her knowledge and help inform the task force of activities. She has many connections both on campus, but also in the community.”

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Emma Comtois | Digital Editor

Masingila is stepping down from the task force to serve as dean representative on SU’s Board of Trustees.

Kantrowitz said she is excited to continue working as co-chair of the task force and has been interested in these issues since she was a resident adviser in college. Working as an adviser, a student on her floor was a victim of a “significant incident.”

“I’ve just made a commitment to do everything I could to try and create a climate that doesn’t allow that to happen, and if it does that students know exactly where to get support,” Kantrowitz said. “I think we’re making really good progress, I think that we’re making a difference, and Diane is going to be a really good asset to the group.”

Murphy has a background in social work, four degrees from SU, five daughters and is a feminist scholar. She added that she is proud of Chancellor Kent Syverud’s announced stances on pressing social issues, such as his recent support of students protected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

If changes are made to limit sexual and relationship violence protection and education during the Donald Trump presidency, SU will resist, she added.

A good community takes care of its people and ensures they feel valued and safe, Murphy said.

“People should have a life of value, quality and safety,” she added.

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