Skip to Content

We Can DU Better Update

Back to News Listing


Jeremy Haefner

News  •
Internal  •

January 21, 2020

Dear Members of WeCanDUBetter,

We would like to thank you for your courage and tenacity. The first-person narratives show how much further we have to go to create a culture of respect for one another so all can feel and be safe at DU. The stories shared by DU community members are abhorrent and unacceptable. You have our promise that not only do we hear you, but we are committed to making progress on each one of your requests to help this campus become a better place. We can do better, and we will.

Specifically, below, we include point-by-point answers to your requests—what we commit to doing, what we have already begun, and what we have been doing that you may not be aware of. In addition, as soon as possible, the Vice Chancellor of Campus Life and Inclusive Excellence, Lili Rodriquez, and DU’s Title IX Coordinator, Jeremy Enlow, would like to speak with, and work with you, as well as the rest of the student body, to find out together what more we can do. Lili and Jeremy will report important updates to the Chancellor throughout this process.

Request: Campus Safety be more representative of the community it serves, including more officers of color, more female officers, more officers with experience working with survivors...

  • Of our existing patrol officer force of 22 officers, two are women (including a new hire who is currently in training) and five are people of color (three identifying as Black and two as Hispanic). The force currently has one vacancy. We have work to do in this area of diversity. We commit to making it a priority to fill additional vacancies with qualified female and of-color officers that more accurately reflect our community.

Request: DU invest in trauma-informed training for Campus Safety, faculty, staff and students. Empathy building and other trauma-informed training should be used...

  • We commit to upgrading and deepening the trauma-informed training for all campus safety personnel and for faculty, staff and students.

  • Already, our equal opportunity and Title IX office training and education has been expanded:

    • We delivered in-person training to over 1,500 DU employees in 2018-2019;

    • We launched a series of online training modules; and

    • We led a new training for all incoming first year and transfer students (1750

      students participated via Intervene).

  • Campus Safety has received training in trauma-informed investigations for hiring new officers, established sexual assault guides for officers on how to respond to victims/survivors of sexual assault, and our crime alerts are now developed to be trauma-informed. Student Affairs and Inclusive Excellence (SAIE) and Human Resources and Inclusive Community (HRIC) sponsored trauma-informed/responsive care training, which was held last year with Campus Safety employee participation.

  • We commit to expanding these programs to comprehensive annual training from experts from RAINN or some other highly credible organization.

Request: More lighting on campus and fix blue light phones...

  • We are starting this immediately. Already, since the requests have been published, we have checked every light, fixed all those we could immediately, and are working on fixing all others. They will be checked monthly.

  • At the same time, we have been working this year to replace all blue light phones with assistant stations, which are provided for general assistance in addition to emergency response, and which we believe will have better response capability.

  • We will also immediately create a student advisory committee and will announce our timetable soon. During this transition, our blue light stations will remain operative until the new system works without flaws.

  • Our current lighting adheres to acceptable levels of lighting for all primary walkways, and we are required to comply with “dark sky” requirements that prohibit us from shining light upwards. However, we commit to going beyond the minimum.

  • Areas surrounding the new Dimond Family Residential Village and Community Commons will be lit to the campus primary walkway standards as well.

  • The new Burwell Center for Career Achievement will provide the same level of external lighting as present on the campus green before construction began.

  • Importantly, all areas near the new buildings will be well lit due to the reflection and transparency of the glass in the buildings’ designs.

Request: Greater campus safety presence on footpaths to deter perpetrators from targeting people walking alone...

  • Already, we have begun to move officers out of their cars to patrol on foot more. Interim Director Mike Holt has committed to making this a priority.

Integrate Campus Safety into an existing department at DU such as SAIE for greater accountability...

  • Accountability is critical. Ultimately, all of Campus Safety reports to Senior Vice Chancellor for Financial Affairs and Treasurer Leslie Brunelli, but we will uphold these new imperatives no matter where the division sits. That said, we are interested in conducting some appropriate benchmarking with peer institutions and models that are working well in higher education. This exploration of best practices is underway.

  • Please know, if students feel they need more support or assistance from campus safety officers, they can speak immediately to Interim Director Mike Holt or to any one of us.

Request: Student leaders in general and in Greek Life should communicate allegations of misconduct to the administration...

  • While it is not a violation of our honor code and Title IX for failure to report known misconduct, it is important for all students to understand why it is important to report to the University. We plan to encourage reporting in all future trainings as well as to reach out to fraternities and sororities to emphasize it as well.

  • This effort has already begun and will continue to emphasize and publicize the many different ways to file a report within the University.

  • It is critical to report all incidents you are aware of or have been involved in to Title IX and/or campus safety and/or the police, so we can make sure that each incident is fully investigated and adjudicated as necessary.

Request: Provide greater academic support for survivors...

  • We have made recent strides to provide academic support accommodations to survivors, but there is more we can do. By working with CAPE, a confidential resource, survivors now receive the appropriate accommodations needed for their academic success. It is important, however, that survivors who need these accommodations seek support through CAPE.

  • We have also simplified the process to withdrawal for medical reasons, such as trauma. Students with mental and/or physical health conditions that prevent them from completing coursework may request a retroactive withdrawal for medical reasons up to 90 days after the last day of classes. Students should work with Student Outreach and Support, under SAIE, to submit a request for a retroactive withdrawal.

Request: Support zero-tolerance policy for perpetrators found responsible for gender violence offenses...

  • Sexual assault and misconduct are never acceptable. People in this community should be able to work and learn in a safe atmosphere. We commit to investigating and adjudicating any unlawful discrimination, harassment, or gender-based violence of any kind. If found responsible, perpetrators will be punished, as called for by our university code of conduct.

  • We will not tolerate violence, including gender-based violence, of any kind. And while we strive to have a fair and equitable process that protects the rights of all parties, we are committed to investigating sexual and gender violence fully and fairly, and holding respondents found responsible accountable for their actions.

Request: Validation should be the first response to survivors. Administrators and Campus Safety have been accused of using victim-blaming language. The burden of safety should not be placed solely on survivors; prevention and punishment should be the focus...

  • As we work to ensure our campus safety officers are trauma-informed, the issue of empathetic first response to survivors is critical. Interim Director Mike Holt and the administration are monitoring this together, and we are jointly committed to getting this right.

Request: DU invest more in gender violence prevention and education. DU plans to decrease resources allocated to prevention and education next year. DU needs to increase funding for sexual education and trauma-informed empathy-building exercises...

  • We promise that DU will not reduce funding or resources associated with gender violence prevention and education no matter what budget cuts we may need to make at the University.

  • Moreover, we commit, here and now, to four years of gender violence education for all undergraduate students, providing training each year of students’ undergraduate education. Developmental in nature, this education will become more intensive and challenging each year in terms of the content and dynamics explored. By implementing this change, we will likely be the first school in the nation to make this mandatory across all four years, and we are proud to commit to this.

Request: More engagement from Greek Life surrounding gender violence; do not desire to demonize Greek life but rather provide training and support to tackle these issues. Establish a task force that partners with CAPE, HCC and CCGVT...

  • Agreed. The Title IX office has already begun working with Greek life and its leaders, and we plan to create a task force to redefine how fraternities and sororities operate within the DU community.

  • In fact, the fraternity and sorority community appear to be in agreement and are ready to make a more formal commitment. It is our goal to develop a specific memo of understanding containing a clear and consistent set of expectations, incentives and disincentives.

Request: Hold an Orientation conversation on power, privilege, oppression and violence with expert facilitators. Discussion should take place in small groups during orientation rather than large community presentation...

  • Student Affairs and Inclusive Excellence is currently revamping orientation programming. Your feedback is now incorporated into that effort. Their goal is to expand the educational programs well beyond welcome week and consider the entire first year an orientation year.

Request: More funding and resources be devoted to red-zone awareness programming at beginning of academic year given how frequently students report assault during their first quarter or first year...

  • We wholeheartedly commit to improving Red Zone programming through a more formal and visible awareness campaign each year.

Request: We request that all changes be made in consultation with experts in trauma-informed care and prevention and education on our campus.

  • We agree and are looking into ways to do this that will help our students feel more protected, safe and understood. We will ask for your thoughts and suggestions on this very soon—or feel free to send in your ideas and thoughts via email anyone of us.

So, this is a beginning, but most definitely not an end. While we may not be able to immediately and wholly meet every request or recommendation—or satisfy every individual constituent—we can do much, much more to ensure that DU is a place where students respect one another and work to keep one another safe. That is our responsibility and our commitment to you. The senior leadership at DU is committed to making this a priority now and into the future.

We will reach out to many of you for further ideas and involvement. Thank you in advance for your help and support as we all work for continuous improvement at DU.

Jeremy Haefner, Chancellor
Lili Rodriguez, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs and Inclusive Excellence
Jeremy Enlow, Coordinator, Title IX

c: Shannon Saul, USG Secretary of Collegiate Gender Violence Topics (CGVT) & President, Collegiate Council on Gender Violence Topics (CCGVT)
Matthew Walter, USG President