May 8, 2014
To: All University of Denver students
From: Robert Coombe, Chancellor
Leslie Rossman, President, GSG
Last week, the U.S. Department of Education published through its Office of Civil Rights (OCR) a list of colleges and universities that have an open investigation involving sexual violence. The University of Denver appears on this list of 55 institutions. Our inclusion on the list stems from a single claim filed with the OCR; we are cooperating fully with the OCR, but as of this date it has made no determination on this claim. You can read more about the OCR and DU’s position here.
The most important point in light of this situation is that the University has a policy of zero tolerance when it comes to sexual violence, harassment and discrimination on and off campus. This policy can be found on the website for our Office of Equal Opportunity (http://www.du.edu/equalopportunity/policies). It reflects our commitment to maintain a safe and vibrant educational community free of harassment or intimidation. As such, we handle any and all claims involving Title IX—the federal civil rights law that prohibits gender discrimination in education—or similar laws fairly and expeditiously.
As a reminder, the University works to proactively combat sexual violence in our community through offices such as the Center for Advocacy, Prevention and Empowerment (CAPE), a department of the Health & Counseling Center. CAPE provides programs and resources to help promote healthy relationships, teach non-violence and equality and foster a respectful and safe environment for all members of the DU community, such as the bystander intervention workshop “Be a B.O.S.S.”: How to Harness Your Power to Prevent Violence. In addition, the Office of Campus Safety makes available to our DU community the Rape Aggression Defense (R.A.D.) program that teaches realistic self-defense tactics and techniques.
University policies and published rules of conduct such as the Honor Code tell us what’s expected of every individual on campus. The University prohibits all forms of harassment, including but not limited to offensive slurs, jokes, and other offensive oral, written, computer-generated, visual or physical conduct which is aimed at an individual or group.
We have become aware of harmful words and threats recently posted on social media sites. Words that intimidate, devalue or retaliate against individuals or groups are not acceptable from any member of our DU community, and we will track and identify the origins of any such posts that are transmitted through our networks. Please be conscientious when engaging in social media and understand that the University will cooperate fully with the Denver Police Department when threats of harm are reported.
Ours is a diverse community in which every person is valued and every person is treated with dignity and respect. It is a community comprised of relationships based on decency and caring. When these norms are violated, even by a tiny fraction of our members, we all suffer and are diminished and will take vigorous action to defend our values.
We are all working together to create awareness and understanding of the damage that occurs when members of our community are harmed in any way. We hope that this message helps you understand the commitment we share at the University of Denver to maintain a safe, welcoming campus for all and to address any situation that threatens this goal.