Hello everyone,

As we gear up for a new academic year, I wanted to be in touch with every student about an important subject that has been much in the news nationally of late, and very much on my mind as well.

Sexual harassment and sexual assault take place on every college campus, and unfortunately Longwood is no exception. Such behavior is fundamentally incompatible with our core community values. But the issue runs deeper even than that; it’s a matter of civil rights. The federal civil rights law known as Title IX, along with the Campus SAVE Act, guarantee an educational environment free from gender-based discrimination of any kind. Harassment and sexual violence are considered extreme forms of discrimination under Title IX, and thus – quite properly in my view – fall under the umbrella of the federal civil rights protections that apply to everyone who works and studies here.

What I want for Longwood is a healthy campus culture. That means a place where every member of the community understands sexual harassment and violence aren’t part of our value system. It also means being a place where community members talk about these issues, and know exactly how to get help when they encounter such behavior. Such help must be prompt and effective, and every community member should be treated fairly and respectfully. I want all members of the campus community to understand their rights, as well as our policies and resources, and I hope nobody at Longwood subjected to such behavior ever feels afraid to report it.

I’ve taken a careful look at our policies in this area over the summer. Today I am announcing a few small changes to our previous policy, which will help ensure we respond appropriately to allegations of misconduct. We’ve also added language related to stalking, and made clear the misconduct policy applies to the entire university, including faculty and staff, not just students. For more information, please consult this page, which includes a link to the policy in its entirety.

But the goal of a healthy campus climate is a broader one. We need to ensure our policies work, but also that our training is effective, and that the overall atmosphere here is responsive. These are matters that go beyond the wording of our policies. So I’m also announcing today the creation of a presidential working group on campus climate. This group will include Jennifer Fraley, the university’s designated Title IX coordinator, along with students, faculty and staff. Its members will be announced in the coming weeks, and they will advise me on matters related to this important issue going forward.

A word about training. ALL students, both new and returning, must complete MyStudentBody, an online prevention training program, by October 1st, and you will be receiving information via email on how to complete that training. This will also be a topic of discussion at a required session for new students during New Lancer Days. Over the coming year, the presidential working group will help me evaluate these training programs and advise me on what else we might do, and how to improve them.

One of the most important elements of a healthy campus climate is that people who have been victimized of sexual misconduct know exactly what options they have for help and remediation. I hope that information will reach you in many forms, but let me take this opportunity to direct you to clear resources. You can find detailed reporting guidance at the link above, and within the full policy itself. Jen Fraley can be contacted directly, at 434-395-2490, fraleyjl@longwood.edu or in person at her office in Lancaster G-26. Other options include campus police, Human Resources, and other student affairs staff.

What happens when you make a report? You should know your case will be handled by a trained Title IX investigator, and Longwood will work to ensure your safety and support. On the link above, you will also find a link to "Student Rights" that will describe your rights in this process. You should also know that in addition to the on-campus process for responding to Title IX complaints, you always have the right to report potential criminal behavior to law enforcement, and the university can help you to do so. However, you should also know that the university will fulfill its obligation to investigate any such accusation, regardless of how police decide to respond.

I’ve spent a great deal of attention on this issue in the last few months, and I am confident Longwood is generally a safe and responsive place. When sexual misconduct is encountered, it is taken seriously, with proper attentiveness to victims and fairness to the accused. That said, studies suggest that nationally about 1 in 5 women are victims of a completed or attempted sexual assault while in college, as are about 1 in 20 men. We must treat this issue with the seriousness it warrants.

A healthy campus climate is a collective obligation. It is our obligation as an institution to be clear such behavior will not be tolerated. That starts from the top, with me. As a community we must look out for one another – to intervene when we encounter behavior that is wrong, and to help when we become aware it has happened. And ultimately, it is up to all of us as individuals to treat one another decently and respectfully.

Thank you for your attention, and for choosing Longwood. I look forward to seeing you on campus, and offer my best wishes for the coming year.

President Reveley