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Statement from the President

October 30, 2014 Update from President Schapiro on Northwestern’s efforts to prevent sexual violence and sexual harassment.

Dear Northwestern Community Members:

I want to highlight an area of great importance to me and others in our community. The issue of sexual violence on college campuses has been the subject of significant national discussion over the last few years, with increased attention to campus response and prevention efforts.  I want to assure you that at Northwestern, we are committed to preventing sexual violence and sexual harassment on campus, conducting fair proceedings that hold perpetrators accountable, and providing compassionate resources to help survivors.  I am proud of the steps we have taken in our efforts to combat sexual violence on campus, and I ask for your help as we continue our efforts as a community to change the culture that allows sexual violence to occur on college campuses and elsewhere.

In January 2014, Northwestern implemented a new Policy on Sexual Misconduct, Stalking, and Dating and Domestic Violence.  This policy provides a detailed definition of consent for sexual activity, which must be knowing, voluntary, active, present, and ongoing. Northwestern’s policy prohibits sexual contact without consent, sexual penetration without consent, sexual exploitation, sexual harassment, and domestic and dating violence. Under our policy, all employees (except those who have a recognized confidentiality privilege) are obligated to report sexual misconduct of which they become aware. Northwestern’s Policy on Consensual Relationships Between Faculty, Staff, and Students prohibits faculty and staff members from being romantically or sexually involved with anyone over whom they have evaluative authority. The policy also expressly prohibits sexual relationships between faculty and undergraduate students as well as between coaches and undergraduate students.

This fall, the Dean of Students announced a new student conduct process, which applies in cases alleging sexual misconduct by students.  I’m hopeful that the changes to the conduct process will encourage more students who have experienced sexual violence to report such incidents to the University. I also want to assure the community that Northwestern’s processes for handling sexual misconduct matters are fair and impartial and preserve the due process rights of all parties involved.

Northwestern has a Title IX Coordinator who is responsible for overseeing our handling of Title IX matters and prevention efforts.  We have five designated Deputy Title IX Coordinators to assist in these efforts.  Northwestern also has a Title IX Coordinating Committee composed of University officials who oversee the University’s compliance with Title IX’s requirements. In addition, the Campus Coalition on Sexual Violence is composed of more than 60 members from diverse student groups, University offices, and outside agencies who work together to improve campus sexual violence policies, prevention programs, and response services. Northwestern community members can find information on our policies, procedures, resources, and training on Northwestern’s Title IX website.

Northwestern provides free confidential counseling for any community member affected by sexual violence. The Center for Awareness, Response, and Education (CARE) provides confidential and nonjudgmental support and advocacy to students who are survivors of sexual assault, intimate partner violence, and stalking. The Women’s Center, CAPS, and NU Life Matters are also available confidential resources.

I am pleased that Northwestern was recently selected to receive its second three-year $300,000 grant from the Department of Justice’s Office of Violence Against Women to support our efforts to combat sexual violence. The grant will fund efforts to engage men in sexual violence prevention, develop culturally specific prevention and intervention strategies for minority and LGBTQ students, implement peer, faculty and staff education programs, create marketing campaigns, and expand bystander intervention training through the Step UP! training program. Bystander intervention is a promising area in sexual violence prevention. This program educates University community members on how they can actively and safely intervene to prevent sexual violence, bias incidents, and hazing, as well as other problems.

Northwestern provides many other training programs and workshops addressing sexual violence. All incoming undergraduates receive mandatory training about sexual violence, and later this year, Northwestern plans to roll out online training about sexual violence for faculty, staff, and graduate and professional students. University Police officers also receive extensive training in handling sexual violence matters. This spring, Northwestern will survey all students to gather data about sexual violence, which will inform our efforts to improve prevention and response.

As detailed above, Northwestern continues to be a leading institution in sexual misconduct prevention and response. But as long as sexual assault and sexual harassment occur in our community, there is room for us to do more. It is up to everyone in our community to continue to work together to develop a culture of respect and make Northwestern a place where sexual violence and sexual harassment are not tolerated.

Morton Schapiro
President and Professor Back to top

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