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Office of Equal Opportunity

Addressing student concerns about sexual misconduct

Oct. 24, 2014

To: University of Denver students

From: Hayden Johnson, president, Undergraduate Student Government
          Leslie Rossman, president, Graduate Student Government         

Dear students,

You’ve received a few emails on the subject of sexual misconduct and Title IX from the University of Denver administration over the past several months. We would like to take this opportunity to address some of the questions and concerns we’ve heard from you, the student body.

First, we want to clarify why the University talks about Title IX when referring to sexual misconduct and assault. Simply put, Title IX of the Education Amendment Act of 1972 prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex. While historically Title IX has been perceived as creating equity in athletics, it is also a prohibition of sexual misconduct, which is a form of discrimination.

We also want to address the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) list that was released last spring, identifying higher education institutions with open Title IX sexual violence investigations. We think it’s important to note that this issue is not just a DU, or even a Colorado, issue – this is a national issue. The list includes schools across the U.S. The University of Denver is on the list because an individual in our community has exercised the right to file a complaint.

We understand that the University cannot legally talk in detail about this complaint, as it is an open investigation. We can tell you that the complaint relates to the University’s procedures during the hearing process at the time the complainant first came forward to the University, which was some time ago. The OCR has made very clear that being on this list is not a determination that the University has done anything wrong, and we will remain on this list until the complaint has been resolved.

We’ve heard questions about the petition that was posted on change.org following the release of the OCR list and the University’s statement on CPR’s Colorado Matters program in May. After meeting with members of the administration, the petitioners published an update making some corrections to their original petition and sharing their learnings that there are indeed a number of groups working to make our campus safer.

Based on community feedback, the University is working to provide more frequent and transparent communications. There is now a comprehensive website – du.edu/titleix – where you can go for information on this subject. In addition to providing basic information, the website outlines where you can go if you find yourself a victim of sexual assault, and identifies which resources are confidential. We encourage you to check it out if you have questions.

You are also invited to attend a town hall sponsored by the Undergraduate Women’s Council and USG’s Student Coalition to Eradicate Sexual Assault on Monday, Oct. 27, from 6:30-8 p.m., in Sturm Hall’s Lindsay Auditorium. Chancellor Chopp and a panel consisting of students and administrators will host an open conversation about the services and policies on the DU campus to address issues of sexual assault and harassment. Pizza will be served; please register for this event.

The best way to prevent sexual misconduct is for us, the students, to get involved by knowing how to recognize potentially harmful situations and having the courage to intervene. Training from the DU B.O.S.S. program helps students be able to keep each other safe through bystander intervention, and your organization has the opportunity to actively be involved with this movement.  The following organizations have signed up for DU B.O.S.S. training this fall:

  • All Discoveries Orientation Leaders
  • Residential Advisors from every residence hall
  • French Class
  • Pioneer Leadership Program
  • Living Learning Communities
  • Men’s group from the Chaplain’s Office
  • Kappa Sigma Fraternity
  • Student Activities graduate staff
  • Gender and Women’s Studies FSEM
  • Gender and Women’s Studies Program
  • Graduate Student Government
  • Undergraduate Student Government
  • HYPE Interns
  • Debate Team

If you’re interested in becoming a DU B.O.S.S., more training sessions will be available winter quarter. Email the CAPE program director, Dr. Gillian Kaag, at gillian.kaag@hcc.du.edu to schedule your training session.

Finally, we would like to outline for you some of the steps DU student organizations have taken over the past several months.

May 2014

USG calls a focus group meeting between cross-campus student leaders to discuss the Office of Civil Rights list and form an official call of action among students to address sexual misconduct

May 2014

In coordination with Princeton University's Student Government, USG contributed to an article in National Campus Leaders magazine publicizing the student voice on University Title IX violations

Aug. 2014

Undergraduate and graduate student representatives invited to serve on broad University of Denver Title IX team

Aug. 2014

USG president and vice president participate in a conference call coordinated by the White House's Office of Public Engagement to discuss the national "It's On Us" campaign to prevent sexual assault

Aug. 2014

USG and GSG presidents meet to establish coalition working to better communicate Title IX process to student body

Sept. 2014

A group of students representing a diverse spectrum of campus establish the Student Coalition for the Eradication of Sexual Assault (SCESA) that collaboratively works to put in place an action plan that will educate the student population on the issue, while creating effective, sustainable programming that increases awareness

Sept. 2014

USG president pledges in solidarity with nearly 200 other university student government leaders to join the White House's "It's On US" campaign to eliminate sexual assault from college campuses

Sept. 2014

Graduate students meet with consultants from Pepper Hamilton

Sept. 2014

The Women's Coalition hosts the "Sexual Assault and Harassment - Where does DU stand?" town hall

Oct. 2014

GSG president invited to serve on search committee for new Title IX coordinator

Oct. 2014

Graduate and undergraduate student representatives communicate to the Board of Trustees Student Affairs Committee about the importance of DU being a leader among higher education for sexual assault prevention. They also encouraged continually evaluating our adjudication process to ensure a just and fair investigative proceeding. 

Oct. 2014

Undergraduate and graduate students collaborate to host second "Sexual Assault and Harassment - Where does DU stand?" town hall

 

Sexual assault is not tolerated on our campus, and we hope to continue to work together to build a safe, compassionate community at DU. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us, visit du.edu/titleix, or email TitleIX@du.edu.