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Updates on Review of Culture, Structure and Processes; Sexual Misconduct Policy Review; Campus Climate Website

From: Rev. Philip L. Boroughs, S.J., President
To: Holy Cross Campus Community
April 30, 2019


 

Dear Members of the Campus Community,

As we enter the final days of the semester, I am sure that many of you are considering the events of this year, the challenges we have faced and continue to face as a community, how we all have gone about addressing those challenges, and how we will continue to move forward.

I too have spent much time reflecting on these questions and I invite you to join in a community-wide gathering on May 7 at 9 a.m. at which I will outline how we move forward as a community. We will share the location with you shortly.

In the meantime, I would like to provide you with some updates on the work that is proceeding, on several fronts, to address these important issues.

Update on Review of Culture, Structure and Processes: We understand that the context in which a policy exists and is implemented is as important as the specific wording of a policy thus, in addition to the review of the sexual misconduct policy, last August I asked Phil Catanzano of the law firm Holland & Knight to begin a review of our culture, structure and processes. You can find past updates here.

As I communicated on March 1, I asked that his review include student input. At this time, very few students have chosen to speak with Mr. Catanzano. The student voice is vitally important to this review and I strongly encourage any student who is interested in speaking with Mr. Catanzano about any aspect of our culture, structures or processes that could contribute to sexual misconduct, be in touch with VP/Dean Murray to schedule a time to speak with Mr. Catanzano. I have asked Mr. Catanzano to complete his review by May 31.

I am including below ways in which we are addressing key issues based on Mr. Catanzano’s findings and recommendations since my March 1 update:

●      The College will devote more resources (financial and staffing) to the work of preventing and addressing sexual misconduct.

●      We will engage an external firm this summer to review the structure of the Title IX Office and provide best practice recommendations.
●      This summer I will address the objectives set forth in the report of the Sexual Respect and Conduct Planning Group. I will create new staff positions to address the needs of the community and to better coordinate the work we are already doing.
●      We have allocated additional funds for education and training in next year’s budget.

●      The College will establish better and clearer guidelines for faculty/staff and student interaction while maintaining our commitment to the strong mentoring relationships that are unique and fundamental to a Holy Cross education.

The close relationships between our faculty and students and the mentoring that our students receive are a hallmark of our Holy Cross experience. This cannot be compromised. However, we must consider ways in which we can maintain both this culture and appropriate professional relationships. I have asked the Provost’s office, Student Affairs, Athletics, the Chaplains office and the Office of Title IX Initiatives to work together to develop policies that will establish clear expectations for interactions between faculty or staff and students on and off campus. This policy work will be undertaken this summer and guidelines will be presented in the fall. In addition, we will be offering training that will include segments on professional boundaries and retaliation for faculty and staff during the third week of May. In the fall, we will offer additional sessions for faculty and staff who cannot attend the May sessions and we will also offer similar training to students.

●      The College will continue to make improvements to physical spaces on campus to increase visibility and address safety concerns.

External lighting has been added in areas of campus to improve visibility, and more will be added this summer. We will install glass in the music practice rooms in Fenwick. We will begin installing additional security cameras in common spaces on campus this summer, including 34 additional cameras in the Luth Athletic Complex; 67 additional cameras on the exterior of buildings, the parking garage and athletic fields; and 118 additional cameras in the interior of academic and administrative buildings and Hogan.

●      The College will continue to evaluate reporting to the Title IX office and work to address any issues community members raise as impediments to reporting.

We have learned from the Campus Climate surveys and from other feedback that there are a number of reasons individuals do not report, including desire for confidentiality, a lack of confidence in the process, a concern that the College would not act on their report and a lack of knowledge of where to report. It is also understandable that individuals may not be ready to bring forward a very sensitive or emotional matter. I do want to share that reporting of misconduct and the number of investigations opened have increased over the past few years and that most individuals who approach the Title IX office choose to participate in investigations. That said, we will continue to seek to understand all the reasons community members may not come forward and then to find ways to address those concerns.

Sexual Misconduct Policy Review: The Committee undertaking this work will be holding its third meeting this week. The Committee, with the assistance of attorney Daryl Lapp of the law firm Locke Lord, is reviewing our current policy in light of the questions and concerns raised by members of the campus community. The Committee will then make recommendations to me and the Executive Team about changes that should be considered to the policy itself or how the policy works in practice. The membership of the Committee and some of the questions to be considered are posted on the Campus Climate website.

I have asked the Committee to prioritize issues and spend focused time and energy addressing the 3-5 issues they deem most critical at this time. I have asked that they look specifically at the timeframes for full investigations, determinations and appeals under the policy and law, while considering the issues of fairness and care for our community members. 

Based on the recommendations, we will make some revisions for the 2019-20 academic year. The work will continue in the fall, when there also may be new federal regulations in place.

Campus Climate Website Updates: The Campus Climate website has been updated to include additional items and up to date information on the many action steps we have undertaken to better understand and address campus climate as well as to respond to discussions arising from the February 2019 sit-in. (Please note that on some computers/phones/devices it may take a few hours for the updates to appear.) Recent updates of note include:

●      Reports of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Planning Group and the Sexual Respect and Conduct Planning Group;
●      Notice of open meetings and feedback forms to gather feedback on these reports and to present the preliminary analysis of the Student Campus Climate Survey; and
●      Posting of Office of Title IX Initiatives 2017-2018 academic year annual report. A report reflecting the 2018-19 fiscal year will be posted in August.

I want to thank you all for your engagement with this work. I cannot state strongly enough my commitment to addressing the questions that many of you have raised with regard to our culture, policies and procedures. The issues that have been raised around sexual respect and conduct and diversity, equity and inclusion are not unlike those raised on campuses around the country this year. That doesn’t make them any easier. They are complex and they are emotional, and for us at Holy Cross they speak to the core of our mission and identity. I know that working together we will build the culture and community that we all want for Holy Cross.

I encourage you to come to the open meetings this week on the planning group recommendations and the climate survey. And I hope to see you on May 7.

Sincerely,

Philip L. Boroughs, S.J.
President