Gretchen Means began her tenure Tuesday as USC’s newly appointed Title IX Coordinator and executive director of the Office of Equity and Diversity, where she said she is striving to develop an impartial system that will accommodate all students.
“I’d like to breed some due process and to create a system and a process in which everyone feels like they’re being fairly treated and fairly vetted and fairly heard,” Means said.
Before coming to USC, Means formerly served as the sexual assault and complex litigation highly qualified expert for the western branch of the U.S. Marine Corps Legal Services Support Section. There, she worked with law enforcement and prosecutors in the region to investigate cases and bring them through the military justice process. She also developed sexual assault training and protocol for the Corps.
“I saw there was a pretty distinct similarity between what had been happening with the Marine Corps or the DOD [Department of Defense], all the military — the scrutiny that had been placed on them by the public and by Congress and by their constituencies — and felt there were a lot of parallels with colleges and what was happening in higher education,” Means said. “I felt that I could lend what I had learned and my particular expertise to the emergent challenges in the field.”
Means earned her J.D. from UC Hastings College of the Law in 1999, graduating cum laude. She worked in the San Diego District Attorney’s Office for 13 years, starting in 2000, before being recruited to work with the U.S. Marine Corps in 2013.
For seven and a half years of her time in the District Attorney’s office, she prosecuted sexual assault, human trafficking and sex-based homicides as part of the Sex Crimes Unit. She also established new methods of prosecuting gang pimping and participated in federal and state task forces to combat criminal sexual exploitation.
Means described how she plans to bring her experience with sexual assault prosecution to practice at USC when dealing with a wide spectrum of sexual assault and harassment cases, as well as when working with protected classes.
“I hope to be able to lend my expertise into negotiating those types of cases and the evidentiary cases, as well as building a system that works for all parties, for all students, whether they come here as a respondent or with a complaint,” Means said.