Since the fall of 2013, the members of the Sexual Misconduct Prevention Task Force have worked together to improve how we address the challenges of sexual misconduct at Tufts University. It has been an impressive effort by a group of committed members of our community.
The Task Force has now completed its final report. I urge all members of our community to read this important report. We would not have made the progress that it describes without the dedication of the Task Force members. I want to give special recognition to the current and former students who committed so much time, energy and personal sacrifice to their service on the Task Force. Their commitment to improving policies, procedures and resources was unquestionably responsible for many of the changes that have been implemented.
Here are a few of the major areas that were addressed by the Task Force:
Increased focus to the issue of sexual misconduct on Tufts campuses by providing regular opportunities for honest discussion about campus concerns with university leadership.
Revised our Sexual Misconduct Policy and our Sexual Misconduct Adjudication Process (SMAP), to bring them in line with new guidance from Office for Civil Rights (OCR) and the federal Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).
Developed disciplinary guidelines specific to violations of the Sexual Misconduct Policy.
Responded to student requests to create the positions of Sexual Misconduct Resource Specialist and Sexual Misconduct Prevention Specialist. These roles provide resources, education and confidential support to Tufts students and the entire community on a wide range of sexual-misconduct issues and concerns.
Created a Center for Awareness, Resources and Education (CARE), which was launched to raise awareness, improve communication, provide training and support students affected by sexual misconduct.
Supported the Office of Equal Opportunity (OEO) in its mandatory training program for all students, staff and faculty on all three campuses and its continued efforts to make information about sexual assault and other sexual misconduct issues more readily available to students through its website and other communications.
Developed and supported the first university-wide student survey on the topic of sexual misconduct. The Tufts Attitudes on Sexual Conduct Survey (TASCS) was a first effort to collect information that would enable the university to continue its education and prevention efforts on campus.
Developed a more comprehensive OEO website that coordinated all information and resources for sexual misconduct.
Increased efforts to encourage the community to report all allegations of discrimination and harassment, ensuring that not only will more people receive the resources and support they need, but the university will also be better able to effectively respond and prevent further incidents with better awareness of reports.
While the Task Force will wind down at the end of this academic year, its important work will continue with the creation of a Sexual Misconduct Prevention Steering Committee in the fall of 2016 and initiatives it will oversee that are specially tailored to build on the Task Force’s progress. I will continue to serve as chair of the new Steering Committee.
I am deeply grateful to all those who have helped advance our commitment to addressing and preventing sexual misconduct, and hope all of you will join us in working together toward our goal of making Tufts University a safe environment for all.