This statement was disseminated by the Vice President of Student Affairs to the campus community on May 7, 2014.
A statement from William & Mary University Relations is also available.
As many of you have seen in the recent press, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) released a list last week of the 55 colleges and universities, including William & Mary, for which OCR has received a complaint about their handling of sexual violence and harassment. In releasing the list, the DOE’s assistant secretary for civil rights emphasized “that a college or university's appearance on this list and being the subject of a Title IX investigation in no way indicates at this stage that the college or university is violating or has violated the law.” We have not been given details about the complaint. OCR has explained to us that their current practice, with complaints of this type, is to conduct a broad review of the university’s prevention programs, policies and procedures, and education and training initiatives, as well as their handling of specific cases. We are cooperating fully with this review.
At William & Mary, sexual violence and harassment are antithetical to all we value. We are working very hard to combat sexual violence and promote a community of dignity, respect and safety for all, including by enhancing education and prevention efforts, expanding training for faculty and staff, strengthening comprehensive support services for victims, communicating clearly about available resources, and ensuring prompt and equitable adjudication of reported violations. In recent years, for example, we have crafted new policies and procedures, improved our ability to investigate reports of sexual violence, and enhanced support services for victims.
We welcome the opportunity to have expert, outside eyes take a hard look at how we do things. Our goal is for William & Mary to be in the forefront of colleges and universities in preventing and responding appropriately to sexual violence, and we believe that OCR’s review will help us in that effort. Our Compliance and Student Affairs offices are working closely together in this important review process. If you would like further information, please contact either of us.
We also hope you will take this opportunity to familiarize yourself with W&M resources:
- Information for individuals experiencing sexual violence
- Discrimination Poster - Campus Resources for Discrimination-Related Concerns, Questions, or Services
- Title IX Coordinator
- Sexual Misconduct Policy and Procedure, Student Code of Conduct (including examples of sexual misconduct)
- Sexual Harassment Policy and Guidance for Employees (FAQs on topics including reporting)
- Workplace Harassment On-Line Training
- Reporting Discrimination (website with information on reporting options)
Kiersten L. Boyce
Virginia M. Ambler