Sexual Assault Response & Prevention
A Letter from President Crutcher
October 7, 2016
Dear Members of the University Community,
I am writing to thank you for your candor, your suggestions, and your thoughtful engagement in conversations we have had in recent weeks about the University’s sexual violence prevention and response efforts, and what we might do to strengthen our work in this area. I am especially grateful for the crucial perspective that survivors have provided. From these conversations with students, staff, faculty, alumni, and parents, clear consensus emerged around specific initiatives that would be most valuable and effective as we continue our efforts. I outline below steps we will be taking immediately, and I likewise encourage you to continue to engage in the University’s important work in this area.
Center for Sexual Assault Prevention and Response
First, I have heard from many of you that the University’s support resources should not only be robust, but also be located together, as the elements are interrelated and should constitute a holistic approach. The University will be moving forward with creation of a Center for Sexual Assault Prevention and Response. The Center resources will include our position focused on education and prevention activities. As I announced previously, this will be a full-time, permanent position, for which the search is already underway. The University will also add a dedicated counselor in Counseling & Psychological Services (CAPS), with expertise in counseling and support of survivors of sexual violence. In January, CAPS will begin providing weekend and evening options for appointments, expanding access to that important resource outside of business hours. Finally, the Center will also include a survivor advocate, a confidential independent resource who can assist students in accessing on-campus and local resources. The advocate will be knowledgeable about University processes and will provide support to students who pursue the campus conduct process, choose not to report at all, or choose to report to police.
Title IX Processes Independent of the Coordinate Colleges
Many community members also have suggested that sexual misconduct investigations and conduct processes should be independent of the Coordinate Colleges. Moving forward, the investigators for these cases, the conduct officer, and the hearing officer will be independent of the Coordinate Colleges. The University will also launch a search for a new Deputy Title IX Coordinator for Students, so that that role, now served by members of the deans’ office staffs, will also be independent of the Coordinate Colleges. Going forward, hearing sites will be outside of the colleges, and complainants will retain the opportunity to participate in the hearing via videoconference if preferred. The process will continue to have appropriate checks and balances, as well as the opportunity for appeal. The deans’ offices will retain their critically important roles in supporting our students.
President’s Advisory Committee
In the past few weeks, University community members have demonstrated a shared commitment to addressing the problem of sexual violence, and a desire to contribute to the responsibility we all share to ensuring the safety of our campus. To continue this important work I will be establishing a President’s Advisory Committee for Sexual Violence Prevention and Response. This Advisory Committee will have representation from across the University community, including students, staff, faculty, alumni, and Trustees, and will be responsible for reviewing the University’s training, prevention, and response efforts, as well as policies and procedures. This year, the Advisory Committee will also focus on the results of the external review of the University’s policies and procedures, and review suggestions that have been made by members of the University community that have not already been addressed. The Advisory Committee will have an important role to play in considering opportunities for the University to enhance its prevention efforts. A number of you identified aspects of campus culture to be explored, and the Advisory Committee will consider those suggestions as well as the experiences of other campuses that have had success in changing campus culture in important areas such as alcohol consumption. Recommendations from the Advisory Committee will help guide our ongoing work in this area. If you would like to nominate someone to serve on this Advisory Committee or have a suggestion to offer the Advisory Committee, please provide it here.
Enhanced Programming and Resources
We will be continuing our existing Title IX training efforts, and faculty and staff are encouraged to participate in an upcoming training. For students, we will be enhancing orientation training and launching new training for sophomores on January 1. I appreciate the work of all of those who have helped develop that training curriculum over the past year. We will also be working with students who lead our peer-to-peer and bystander efforts, including our Spiders for Spiders, to identify ways to extend their powerful work. We are also making more prominent the 24/7 hotline for survivors, as well as the way to reach on-call deans’ office staff at night and on weekends. Students will receive new University ID cards with these numbers printed on the back by the beginning of the spring semester. For additional information about the University’s existing processes or how to help someone in need, please see the University’s sexual misconduct website.
As we continue to improve and enhance our prevention and response efforts, I want to thank all members of our community who are engaged daily in our important work in this area and in support of our students. It has been heartening to see, in recent weeks, such strong evidence of our shared dedication across the University to the growth and flourishing of all of our students. I look forward to our continued work together to ensure that the campus climate reflects our collective values and that we achieve our shared aspirations for the University of Richmond.
Ronald A. Crutcher
Dear Members of the University Community,
The University has made significant progress on the initiatives outlined in my Oct. 7, 2016, message to the University community. The location for the Center for Sexual Assault Prevention and Response has been established at Sarah Brunet Hall in proximity to CAPS’ (Counseling and Psychological Services) offices. The Center is designed to ensure that the University support resources are holistic and coordinated. We have begun the search process for a dedicated counselor with expertise in counseling and supporting survivors of sexual violence and for the full-time education and prevention specialist. Additionally, the University is making good progress on plans to bring an independent, confidential survivor advocate to the Center.
The process for investigating and responding to reports of sexual misconduct is now independent of the Coordinate Colleges. Tracy Cassalia, Manager of Health Education and Wellness, has agreed to serve, on an interim basis, in the role of Deputy Title IX Coordinator for Students, while the University conducts a national search for this position. The University has engaged experienced, independent investigators to investigate reports of sexual misconduct. Tina Cade, Associate Vice President for Student Development, is now serving as the conduct officer for student conduct cases involving reports of sexual misconduct. The University has engaged an independent hearing officer to preside over hearings before the University Hearing Board.
I have received a number of nominations for the President’s Advisory Committee for Sexual Violence Prevention and Response and will name the Committee before the end of the semester. The Committee’s first priority will be to evaluate the results of the external review of the University’s sexual misconduct policies and procedures.
Finally, I am also pleased to report that Connor Marsden, President of the University of Richmond Alumni Association, has informed me that the URAA plans to support the important educational work of our “Spiders for Spiders” sexual assault awareness and prevention program with $15,000 over three years. We are deeply grateful for URAA’s support and for the terrific work that our students do through Spiders for Spiders.
Ronald A. Crutcher
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 30 and 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.
Ronald A. Crutcher