A Hopeful Path Forward
September 8, 2022
Dear Members of the Holy Cross Community,
Today, with deep gratitude for the steadfast work and commitment of all who have brought us to this moment, we write to share with you the full report and recommendations of the Comprehensive Investigation into Faculty Sexual Misconduct. This report is the result of eight months of extensive review of historical accounts and materials dating back several decades, as well as survey responses and interviews with more than 75 community members, but it represents so much more than that.
It is a full acknowledgment of the harm suffered by many in our community and a reckoning with the conditions, circumstances and cultures that can contribute to an environment where such harm can occur. While it presents a complex and multifaceted view of those contributing factors, the report also is an unflinching examination of the dangers of exceptionalism—if we believe Holy Cross to be so special that truly bad things can’t happen here or that certain individuals are beyond accountability—and a compassionate recognition of the other side of that exceptionalism—that when we, as a community and an institution, fall short of our values, the pain and disappointment are felt all the more deeply.
The report centers the voices of individual survivors who, with strength, candor and courage, came forward to help make Holy Cross better. And the report reflects the same motivation of an entire community, led admirably by the 6-member Comprehensive Investigation Oversight Committee (CIOC)—itself an exemplar of shared governance and collaboration—whose work will soon conclude. While many of the accounts relate to conduct from long ago, they help us understand Holy Cross’ culture and inform changes that are needed today.
We are grateful for the dedication and care of the CIOC and of the investigators themselves, Gina Maisto Smith and Leslie Gomez of Cozen O’Connor’s Institutional Response Group, whose approach is grounded in four key principles—humility, empathy, accountability, and collaboration. Their work follows prior investigations into historical sexual misconduct at the College. For many in the Holy Cross community, previous efforts were not sufficient. As it identifies what might have gone wrong in the past and commends the significant efforts over the past few years to address and prevent sexual misconduct, the report provides extensive recommendations for restorative practices, preventive work, strengthened policies and steps to foster increased reporting and enhance responses to reports. In so doing, it provides a hopeful path forward.
One survivor, a graduate from the 1980s, spoke to investigators of the finger-pointing they had seen within the community over this issue, while “so much of the cultural ethos to the College is the invitation to reflection.” For the process to be complete, they said, we must engage not in finger-pointing, but rather in self-reflection and responsibility.
The investigators agreed. “We believe that adhering to the College’s mission with fidelity and integrity is the roadmap for the path forward,” they wrote. “Emphasizing humility, empathy, and collaboration…can help drive a shift from blame to accountability, from divisiveness to collaboration, and from conflict to care and responsiveness.”
This is our work. Indeed, the College’s mission statement refers to the “shared responsibility for the life and governance” of Holy Cross as leading all its members to “work together, to be sensitive to one another, to serve others, and to seek justice within and beyond the Holy Cross community.” We owe a debt to the survivors, whose ability to envision and fight for a better Holy Cross inspires us to work even harder. To these individuals, we say: We are profoundly sorry for the harm and pain you suffered, and we commit to turning our sorrow into action for you. And we thank you. You are changing culture; you are remaking the College by living the very values we espouse.
In the coming days, we will host meetings with the CIOC and investigators for faculty, staff, students and alumni to discuss and ask questions about the report. Later this fall, we also will hold a special service as a Prayer for Atonement and Healing. To carry forward the work of this investigation, I (President Rougeau) will appoint a representative Recommendation Implementation Committee, whose charge and members will be detailed in the coming weeks.
In the meantime, we ask every member of our community to read the report and recommendations, as well as a related FAQ, in their entirety and to continue the urgent work to end sexual misconduct at Holy Cross. The words of French Jesuit and philosopher Pierre Teilhard de Chardin resonate profoundly with us today:
“In the final analysis, the question of why bad things happen to good people transmutes itself into some very different questions, no longer asking why something happened, but asking how we will respond, what we intend to do now that it happened.”
Helen W. Boucher ’86
Chair, Board of Trustees