Dear Members of the University Community,

I am writing to share my thoughts about the very important subject of sexual violence and the difficult but important conversations that have taken place in our community this week. It is clear that members of our community are concerned and frustrated, and some are hurting. It is also clear that those strong emotions come from a shared and deeply held commitment to the well-being of our students and to preventing sexual violence.

Last evening, at the discussion following the It Ends Now program, Deans Joe Boehman and Mia Genoni, Title IX Coordinator Maura Smith, and Vice President for Student Development Steve Bisese, heard many thoughtful comments and deeply held convictions from members of our community. And they conveyed their sincere regret and apology that their e-mail message earlier this week has caused pain. I echo that sentiment. We know that it is our job and responsibility to help students, to care for them, and to contribute to the well-being of each individual and our community as a whole. Indeed, that is the very reason we have chosen to work in the field of higher education.

Many other conversations have occurred and will continue to occur among students, faculty, staff, and alumni. In all of these conversations and communications, I am grateful for your candor, your commitment to holding the University accountable, your enormous care for survivors of sexual violence, and your willingness to be part of ensuring we do whatever we can to fulfill our individual and shared responsibility for our community.

I want to address two specific concerns that have been expressed about our commitment to preventing sexual violence. First, I want to reiterate the University’s commitment to the funding of a permanent position dedicated to sexual misconduct education and prevention. We are already in the process of filling that temporarily vacant position and when grant funding expires, institutional resources will sustain the position. Second, I want to be clear that the University responds actively to any report of sexual misconduct and remains committed to a thorough and impartial investigation and hearing process, in which no student receives preferential treatment. This impartiality is unequivocal.

We have in place extensive and comprehensive programs to educate our students on how to prevent sexual assault, to train all members of our community to recognize and respond to incidents of sexual assault, to provide compassionate care for those who have been assaulted, and to discipline those who through our judicial review process are found to have perpetrated acts of sexual violence. I see this commitment as an affirmation of the ideals we hold as a community as well as a demonstration of our resolve to end sexual violence on our campus.

As an academic and intellectual community, I know that we will all bring to this issue our best thinking. That was reflected in the conversation last night during the It Ends Now program and continued today during our student forum, which I was pleased to open with an invitation for specific input and suggestions to enhance our efforts. I have also been in touch with the President of the Faculty Senate, who is helping to convene a faculty conversation on this issue, and with University Staff Advisory Council leadership, for assistance to convene a forum for staff. Late this afternoon, I spoke with URAA President Connor Marsden who has already offered valuable suggestions and is committed to the ongoing engagement of our alumni. I also intend to solicit input from student government leaders who will have valuable insights to share. The community has many important suggestions and observations to offer, and we want to gather those suggestions about what more we might be doing to address and end sexual violence on our campus and to support and care for those who report incidents of sexual violence. I also encourage any member of our community who would like to share a perspective or suggestion (anonymously if you wish) to do so.

I will report back to the University community by Fall Break based on input received by September 30and will consult with student, faculty, staff, administrative, and alumni leadership in shaping action steps emerging from the input.

Again, I appreciate your strong support of our students and your shared conviction with respect to ending sexual violence on our campus. I also wish to express my gratitude to all members of our community engaged daily in prevention and response efforts. I look forward to our continued work together.

Sincerely,

Ronald A. Crutcher
President

To learn more about the University’s resources for those in need of support or assistance please visit:http://studentdevelopment.richmond.edu/student-concerns/sexual-misconduct/resources.html

For information on our process for responding to reports of sexual misconduct, please visit:http://studentdevelopment.richmond.edu/student-concerns/sexual-misconduct/responding.html

Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Collegian.

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