At 4:05, Erica Moorer rushed out of her office and into the Student Life and Involvement Center (SLIC) lobby. “Oh my gosh I am so sorry to keep you waiting,” she said before a hello. She was flustered and I was caught off guard, expecting to wait five minutes at the least to meet with an administrator with a busy schedule. “I just really hate to make people wait,” she explained, humbley. “Come on in.”
The University of Redlands recently hired Erica Moorer as a full time Deputy Title IX Coordinator. This is a big step for the university, as this title has historically been held by a faculty member who has to juggle their time between their primary position and their duties as Deputy Title IX Coordinator. Now that the position stands alone, Moorer serves as a primary contact for students and receives all reports of sexual harassment and discrimination. The job description also incorporates campus education, in terms of interacting with students and organizations and holding workshops, forums and events to advance the conversation about sexual assault. Moorer is determined to make an impact.
In an attempt to get know our new coordinator better, we had a conversation around a table in her office where she spoke to me about past experiences and future goals. While Moorer carefully articulated all that she had to say, she played with a hot-pink stress ball that matched her nails perfectly. In times of excitement, she’d hit the ball hard enough to make it light up, adding a non-intentional dramatic affect.
Moorer has made a name for herself at the University of Redlands by announcing that every time you have sex it should be the best sex of your life. She speaks with great confidence, and makes her passion for her work well known. Moorer is young and still at the beginning of her professional career. Originally hailing from Michigan, she received a Bachelors of Arts in International Relations and Public Policy at the University of Oakland and then moved on to Syracuse University to get a Master’s in Student Affairs Counseling. Throughout her time in higher education, Moorer worked as a Residence Assistant (RA), an apartment Community Assistant (CA) and ultimately became an RA supervisor. Her studies and work in college lead her to develop a passion for sexual education and specialize as a counselor that focuses on college aged students.
“That 5 years of school experiences matched with work experience, changed me,” Moorer said. “Note to everyone out there: don’t rush through your experiences. Sometimes different roads take you to places you were definitely meant to be.”
In a quest to find warmth and the sun, Moorer ended up at San Diego State University (SDSU) working as a resident coordinator for first year students in an attempt to develop both her counseling and sexual education credentials.
“I think we all get how not to get STI’s,” Moorer said. “What we don’t have is [conversations about how] sex is fun and it should feel good, and you should have the best sex of your life every time you have sex. What we don’t teach is how to have conversations about what we like. We don’t teach how to have conversations with someone about telling them you like them, or you want to have sex with them, let alone kiss them. We don’t teach things that get people in very complicated situations.”
At SDSU, Moorer worked as a first responder for all sexual violence situations, which made a tremendous impact on where she is today.
“I [was] getting in these situations and responding to these awful, 2 a.m. cries out for help, and I always wonder what the hell are we doing to teach people not to get themselves into these situations,” she said. “I am like, ‘I need to do something about that.’ I began really developing sex-ed programs, trying to bring bold directness, and to have conversation instead of preaching and lecturing folks.”
Moorer was nearly in tears as she spoke about the motivations that brought her to the current position she holds. She explained that there are so many important conversations that we need to have that aren’t in common practice just yet. In an attempt to learn from a community outside a college environment, Moorer began serving as a sexual assault advocate for the city of San Diego, volunteering to be present for anyone who wanted a forensic exam after a sexual assault. She wanted to give back to those in need.
“But it taught me more than I was able to teach or give back. Incredibly humbling,” Moorer said. “Those experiences of holding someone’s hands for the worst experience of their life, and just being human, not overstepping or getting angry, just being strong and human and present was very soul teaching for me. It influences the work I do today in which I am able to sit with students and just take up space. It taught me the importance of the systematic [process], and how that can inflict harm, intentionally or unintentionally.”
While her friends were job hunting, they stumbled across an open position and thought, “Dude. This is you.” She had never heard of Redlands at the time and felt like she wasn’t quite done in San Diego yet. But then she recalled a quote from a book she had read called “You are a Badass” by Jen Sincero, saying that when someone has something that you don’t, it’s because they applied for it, so you have to believe in yourself.
“So anyways, I applied, and put myself out there,” Moorer continued. “And man, when they called me and told me I got this job, I did more than a happy dance. I cried, and called my mama. I was like, ‘I have no idea where Redlands is or what this town is gonna be like, but I’m going and I’m gonna make my mark.’”
Moorer is impressed by the friendliness of Redlands both as a town and as a university. She said that she keeps finding herself surprised by all of the big city things it has going on while still maintaining its small town personality. Although she is still dealing with a bit of culture shock from her migration from the North East, Moorer said nothing feels more dreamesque than moving to California to take her dream job.
Moorer is determined to make her time in Redlands count, and plans to leave her mark. She hopes to educate people about consent in a way that is engaging and dynamic. She wants to help teach the student body to understand gray areas and how to have conversations about what we like and what we want. Moorer dreams of one day having interns that help reach the student body, and even teaching a class.
“I am approachable and I am humble enough to know that I am not an expert at all things, so I hope that we have the opportunity for you to learn from me and me to learn from you.”
Moorer emphasized that there is a team of people fighting the good fight. She is thrilled that she will be able to offer another level of support for those on all sides of the process, and for all that she plans to achieve at the University of Redlands. Having a full time Deputy Title IX Coordinator is just another step up a mountain that a team of determined people have been climbing, and will continue to climb.
“If you think about any movement of any kind, there is a starting point and then there is movement,” she said while moving her hot pink stress-ball begrudgingly across the table as a visual cue. “[This is] not a phenomenon or a blip. I think overall as a people, we are moving. We are challenging these ideas of romance and patriarchy and masculinity and femininity, and who does what and how and pleasure. We are challenging these things as a people. It’s the time. And we’re in the time. It’s exciting.”
photo courtesy of Taylor Matousek of University of Redlands Communications