Dear Laurentian Friends:
I am announcing today the charge and composition of the University Task Force on the Causes and Prevention of Sexual Misconduct, an initiative I previewed in late October after the fall meeting of the Board of Trustees.
St. Lawrence University is committed to providing our students, faculty, and staff with a campus environment and culture that is safe, respectful, and conducive to their highest aspirations for study, work, and social engagement. Building on the dedicated work of faculty, staff, students, and alumni over the past two decades, this is the right time for us to organize fresh findings and recommendations into a plan for the years ahead. I believe the St. Lawrence campus will be much better off in the future from a thoughtful study about the causes of sexual misconduct and the best means to prevent it.
The Task Force on the Causes and Prevention of Sexual Misconduct will assess the current social climate, review relevant research literature, and take measure of our campus processes and educational programs. From that informed study, it will make recommendations to me about how to create a campus culture in which all forms of sexual misconduct (including date and acquaintance rape, sexual harassment, stalking and other forms of sexual assault) are prevented from occurring. With awareness that social and campus cultures have evolved over the decades, and while considering the experiences of Laurentians past, the task force’s work ought to help shape our Laurentian community for current students and for the university’s future—affirming our academic mission and our best community habits.
The Task Force will:
- Conduct qualitative research with current students and alumni in order to understand their experiences with sexual misconduct and the extensive and residual harm of sexual harassment and assault inflicted by some members within our community upon others. It is imperative that recommendations are made to effect the most positive campus culture possible.
- Study the causes of sexual misconduct among American college students and the best practices in addressing it, and develop plans for applying the lessons of this research in the St. Lawrence context. This general research will include examining the intersections of sexual violence and bias related to race, gender, sexual orientation, class, ability, and other domains of difference.
- The task force must give special consideration to the well-known relationship between alcohol abuse and sexual violence.
- Solicit ideas for possible new initiatives in educational programming, advocacy, safety and security measures, awareness, interventions, and support for survivors—building on the strengths of existing university efforts.
- Understand the University’s current policies, practices, programs and procedures for preventing, enforcing, adjudicating, and responding to sexual and relationship violence, as well as the related federal and state compliance requirements.
- Consider and develop the best ways of using technology, social media, and other means to educate the University community about services, programs, support systems, enforcement efforts, and adjudication results.
- Explore the most admirable practices of other institutions and resources available from other organizations, making use of the expertise within our University community, and develop recommendations to ensure a comprehensive, cohesive, and effective prevention and education program.
Trustees Samantha Guerry ’88 and Heather McCauley ’06 will co-chair the task force with Professor of Philosophy Erin McCarthy.
Other members who have agreed to serve, with my thanks, are:
Isis Flores ’19
Amanda Polloni ’19
Placido Ramallo ’21
Sydney Siefert ’04
Jamie Moorby ’04
Scott Giles ’82, P’16
I look forward to an interim progress report in mid-April and their final report and recommendations by December 2019, which will be shared with the community.