The recent article in Rolling Stone magazine about the University of Virginia, along with subsequent reporting, and the national news from Ferguson and Staten Island concerning community policing have made the past few weeks a time of tumultuous debate throughout the Commonwealth and nation, and across higher education. These issues speak to the matter of civil rights, among them the rights of students to pursue their education free from sexual discrimination, harassment and violence, and the rights of all of us to be treated decently and fairly under the law.

These matters have also been very much on the mind of the two of us, and Longwood’s Board of Visitors, the University’s governing body.  At Board meetings throughout this year and years prior, and at cabinet meetings of Longwood’s administration, there have been substantial discussions about sexual violence and about the University’s efforts to ensure the campus is a place where students feel safe, know what to do if something happens, have access to resources, and are treated fairly. 

Just in the last few months, Longwood has asked all of our faculty, staff and students to undertake substantial training about sexual violence. The University has revised its policies to ensure they are fair and effective. Longwood has appointed for the first time a Title IX coordinator and deputies, and established a presidential advisory group on campus climate. More broadly, we have endeavored in ways large and small to encourage a conversation on campus about these issues. We have done so because that is the proper course of great universities in the face of difficult issues, but also because such discussions make our community safer, by facilitating a healthy culture where we look out for one another.  

Longwood has drawn on the strength of our 175-year-old institution, and the University should be particularly proud of the hard work of our dedicated Student Affairs staff and highly professional campus police, which was recently ranked among the top 20 university police departments in America. Every day, they work closely with the town police and other law enforcement, and they have earned the trust of our community. Our campus is a remarkably safe one, as evidenced by our most recent Clery Act report. That law requires every college and university to be transparent about crime reports on campus, so community members can be informed. We support that goal, and are pleased to share our report. We also encourage you to look at other online resources, including information about our campus police, Longwood’s sexual misconduct policy, and President’s Office messages to the campus community.

We recognize these are issues that require constant attention and vigilance. Longwood is profoundly committed to the safety of our students. Every Longwood student is a member of our community, and each will be treated with fairness and respect.  We will continue to address these critical issues across higher education openly and head-on. Citizen-leadership demands nothing less. 

Colleen McCrink Margiloff ’97

W. Taylor Reveley IV