President's Charge to the Task Force

Task Force on Preventing Sexual Assault and Harassment

 I am extremely grateful to each of you for agreeing to serve.  This group has very important work to do for William & Mary. 

At the outset, we should be clear that William & Mary is fully committed to providing a safe and supportive environment for our students and all other members of the campus community.  This is essential in meeting our ethical obligations to one another.  It also recognizes that taking full advantage of the robust education we offer is feasible only when members of the campus feel safe and unharassed.  Too, we must meet the federal government’s legal mandates regarding sexual assault and harassment.  In short, we have an ethical, educational, and legal obligation to provide an environment free of these evils.

You also know that the federal Office of Civil Rights (OCR) has included William & Mary among more than seventy institutions being investigated for Title IX compliance, based on each school’s having at least one pending Title IX complaint.  This investigation will put additional scrutiny on the effectiveness of our policies and procedures, but it is not what motivates the task force.  Rather, our goal is to ensure that our efforts in education, prevention, and response to sexual assault and harassment live up to our own high ideals.

I ask the task force to undertake the responsibilities noted below:

  • CAMPUS CLIMATE:  Conduct a campus-wide survey to assess the scope of the problem of sexual assault and sexual harassment on our campus, to understand the level of awareness of campus resources for responding to both, and to engage any related issues that can guide institutional decision-making.  The survey ought to include the collection of both quantitative data (questionnaires) and qualitative data (focus groups, town hall discussions, and the like).  The task force’s report should include significant findings as well as related recommendations.
  • PREVENTION & EDUCATION:  Assess the effectiveness of our current strategies and staffing to prevent sexual assault and harassment and to educate the campus community (undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, staff and parents) about them.  Your report should include recommendations for more effective prevention and education.
  • TRAINING FOR FACULTY AND STAFF:  Examine best practices and avenues for delivering training for faculty and staff.  Your report should include recommendations for training to ensure legal compliance and to meet broader institutional goals.
  • INVESTIGATION & ADJUDICATION:  Within the context of compliance obligations and the university’s goals of prompt and equitable response to complaints, examine our current practices and procedures for investigating and adjudicating allegations of sexual assault and harassment.  Make recommendations regarding investigation and adjudication to whatever extent you find appropriate.

While these matters can affect faculty and staff as well as students, the scope of your charge is the student experience.  In conducting your work, please seek broad campus-wide advice and recommendations.  Provide the campus with periodic updates.  And be sure to coordinate your activities with the relevant offices on campus, especially those of the Dean of Students and the Chief Compliance Officer.  In conducting the survey and in carrying out other aspects of your work, you may need additional support; please work with the provost to find the resources needed.  Finally, I ask that you report your findings and recommendations to me no later than June 30, 2015. 

Sexual assault and harassment on campus pose important issues, ones faced by every college and university throughout the country.  Your efforts will help ensure sure that William & Mary deals with them honestly, effectively, and fully.