To the W&M Community,
As Chair of the recently appointed Task Force on Preventing Sexual Assault and Harassment, I am writing to update the campus community on our work to-date, to seek your input, and to let you know how you can follow the task force’s work throughout this year of our appointment.
- A task force website is now active, and it includes task force member contact information; our meetings agendas and minutes; links to campus policies and resources; a list of issue-related programs and initiatives; and a web form for submitting comments, concerns, and feedback electronically to the task force. Because members of the task force are actively following the local and national conversation around these issues, the site also includes an “In the News” link which highlights the plethora of articles and opinion pieces circulating in the popular and higher education media.
- The Haven is opening as a new, safe and inclusive gathering space of support on campus. The Haven provides confidential education, advocacy, and acceptance for anyone seeking guidance on relational abuse and sexual assault. On Friday, October 24 from 3:00-6:00 p.m. there will be an open house for The Haven, located in the Campus Center, Room 166. For more information, contact task force members Donna Haygood-Jackson [[dghayg]] or Mallory Tucker [[e|mmtucker]].
- The National Sexual Misconduct Campus Climate Survey was distributed to all students—graduate and undergraduate—on Monday, October 6. This is an important initiative of the task force subcommittee charged with assessing the campus climate around sexual violence. The survey will remain open until November 17. A reminder email was sent this past Monday and one final reminder will be sent on November 3 to students who have not yet responded. If you are a student, please take a few minutes to complete the survey – it should take only about 10 minutes and your responses are critical to our efforts. If you are a member of the faculty/staff, please encourage your students to complete the survey.
- Last week, students were asked to review and provide comments on a number of proposed changes to the sexual misconduct policy (pdf) and procedures (pdf). This summer, the university convened a large working group consisting of staff from Student Affairs, the Dean of Students Office, Health Promotion, the Counseling Center, the William & Mary Police, Administration, Office of Compliance, and University Counsel to study our sexual misconduct policies, procedures, and educational efforts. That two-day “summit” included an in-depth review of policies and procedures, resulting in these proposed changes. The comment period is open until November 7.
- On October 8, the William & Mary Women's Law Society hosted a panel discussion, The Law of Sexual Assault on Campus. Three task force members—Dave Gilbert, Associate Dean of Students and Director of Student Conduct; Kiersten Boyce, Title IX Coordinator and Chief Compliance Officer; and Cynthia Ward, Professor, W&M Law School—were panelists for this discussion of sexual assault policy on the William & Mary campus, related legal issues, and how students are affected. The panel was moderated by task force member Susan Grover, Associate Provost for Academic and Faculty Affairs. We plan to sponsor a repeat of this well-received program on the main campus in November.
- The task force is supporting a number of new Title IX compliance actions (pdf) that have been initiated at W&M since May, 2014. Those initiatives, summarized by Kiersten Boyce, Title IX Coordinator, are also highlighted on the task force website.
- This week the members of Health Outreach Peer Educators (HOPE) are sponsoring a series of W&M programs as part of the Red Flag Campaign, a national “public awareness campaign designed to address dating violence and promote the prevention of dating violence on college campuses. The campaign was created using a ‘bystander intervention’ strategy, encouraging friends and other campus community members to ‘say something’ when they see warning signs (‘red flags’) for dating violence in a friend’s relationship.”
The task force encourages your involvement, your suggestions, and your support as we work together around the key areas of the president’s charge – campus climate, education & prevention, faculty & staff training, and investigation & adjudication. Going forward, we will be providing the campus community with regular updates through our task force website.