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Review of College's Culture, Structures and Procedures

From: Rev. Philip L. Boroughs, S.J., President
To: Holy Cross Campus Community
July 31, 2019

Dear Members of the Campus Community,

I have just received the final report of Phil Catanzano’s review of the College’s culture, structures and procedures to prevent future sexual misconduct. I am grateful to the many of you who met with Mr. Catanzano. Your openness and willingness to share your experiences and concerns have already resulted in positive measures toward preventing future misconduct and the College will continue to act upon Mr. Catanzano’s findings and recommendations.

You will notice that the report focuses on Mr. Catanzano’s broad findings related to our culture and processes. Some members of the community brought very specific concerns and information to him. As he outlines in the introduction to his report, his goal was to determine whether the specific concerns were indicative of broader cultural or procedural deficiencies and to report on how those can be improved toward preventing future misconduct. Any concerns not addressed in the summary report have been communicated to the College and will be evaluated and addressed as appropriate. Mr. Catanzano also references frustration and complaints that date back years or even decades. While I cannot change the past, I want to hear this information so we can make improvements now. And if there is information related to possible prior misconduct, I want to address it now. We must address the past in order to move forward together. I urge you to report any information that may be related to possible misconduct via the online reporting form or by contacting the Title IX Office at titleix@holycross.edu or 508-793-3336.

Mr. Catanzano’s work highlighted many issues about which I remain concerned. As a result of the hard work of many of you over the past year, we have already made some progress in addressing many of these issues. It is clear, however, that we still have a lot of work to do. We need to formalize and communicate our expectations for the interactions between students, faculty and staff both on and off campus. We need to ensure that all of our employees have clear lines of oversight. We need to address concerns with some of our facilities and spaces. I will be working with members of the administration to address these shortcomings quickly.

While we are actively pursuing Mr. Catanzano’s recommendations, I would like to take this opportunity to specifically address two issues raised in the report. First, Mr. Catanzano observed that members of the community are reluctant to report information about possible inappropriate behavior. Community members offered various reasons for this reluctance: fear of retaliation, assuming that the information was already known, feeling that reporting would compromise a position of trust, distrust of certain offices or leadership, or concern that the reporter would be in trouble of some kind for not coming forward earlier. I take these concerns very seriously and we will need to address them as a community. However, the safety of our students is paramount and the only way we can deal with specific misconduct is if it is reported and addressed through our policy.

The individuals who shared complaints of misconduct with Mr. Catanzano, with respect to current or former members of the community, were provided with the appropriate information to have a conversation with the Title IX Office. The Title IX Office evaluates every allegation of a potential violation of the Sexual Misconduct Policy that is reported to the College. This includes any recent or new report of a claim that took place at any time in the past that has not been previously adjudicated and addressed by the College. I understand that some may be hesitant to come forward at this point about historic behavior as they may fear they will be questioned about why they have failed to report. But we want this information. Starting today, and until the end of this calendar year, the Title IX Office will be accepting reports of past sexual misconduct (behavior that occurred in prior years) against adult members of our community with no repercussions for failure to report under the Sexual Misconduct Policy. Please note that my direct reports are excluded from this amnesty. 

The second issue I would like to address is Mr. Catanzano’s articulation of the personal attacks that were directed at members of our community. We/I cannot ignore this. Regardless of frustration or dissatisfaction with a process or the results of specific matters, there is no justification for such harmful and disrespectful treatment of any individual in our community. Our mission calls us to build a community marked by freedom, mutual respect and civility. The responsibilities to live up to our core values, identify our shared commitments, listen carefully to each other and discern how to move forward together even when we disagree belong to each and every one of us. As we continue to work toward preventing misconduct on our campus, we will also be focused on enhancing our efforts around respect and inclusivity in the coming academic year.

While this particular review is complete, the work continues as we seek to prevent misconduct and build the respectful community that we all seek at Holy Cross. I am grateful to the many of you who have joined these efforts to date. We will continue to update the Campus Climate website and we will soon be sharing not only the report of the Sexual Misconduct Policy Review Committee and next steps for the policy and its implementation, but also updates on the structure for the Title IX Office and for delivering the critical education and training to prevent sexual misconduct.

I remain hopeful that as a community we will recognize our common ground and our common stake in Holy Cross and its mission, raise issues respectfully, and work together to find solutions to the challenges that confront us. I hope you will all join me in this work.

Sincerely,

Boroughs

Rev. Philip L. Boroughs, S.J.
President