Preventing Sexual Violence

February 13, 2015

 

Dear Colleagues:

Sexual violence has no place in our university. It is counter to the very culture of openness and learning that we seek to establish, it is counter to our values to respect every individual, and it undermines the safety and well-being of the members of our university community. Because of this, preventing sexual violence is not merely a matter of the law. It is also about our campus culture. Maintaining a campus environment where sexual violence is prevented and addressed is a responsibility that we all share and is one of my priorities as Chancellor.

Our University is committed to actively fostering a culture that prevents sexual violence and protects the safety of our students, staff, and faculty. This type of culture requires actions of everyone. It is also important that any actions be taken in accordance with the law. Therefore, I wanted to make you aware of the following information:

Reporting: As employees of an educational institution, each of us has legal as well as moral responsibilities in this regard. Specifically, with limited exceptions as explained in the SHARE website described below, if you learn of an incident of sexual violence involving a student, staff, or faculty member, you are required to report it to the University’s Title IX coordinator, Katie Pope  (412-648-7861; cap147@pitt.edu) or the Title IX liaison at your campus.

Reporting such incidents ensures that the victim is connected with the proper resources and informed of his or her options, and promotes compliance with the law. Importantly, if someone shares with you an experience involving sexual violence, you can, and indeed I expect that you will, provide comfort and support, after explaining the limits on confidentiality due to your obligation to report. The University Title IX coordinator or liaison on your campus can provide you with information specific to your situation. I strongly urge you to utilize these resources.

Information resources for faculty and staff:  We have developed the following information resources to better inform members of our community about their responsibilities and appropriate proactive measures they might take to address this important issue:  

  • The Guide for Faculty and Staff who Learn of Sexual Misconduct or Violence available at http://www.share.pitt.edu/faculty-staff-guide outlines the steps that you should take should you learn of sexual misconduct or violence;
  • The University’s Sexual Harassment and Assault Response and Education (“SHARE”) website (http://www.share.pitt.edu), developed specifically for students, provides additional information that you will find informative and useful;
  • A new online program called Preventing Discrimination and Sexual Violence: Title IX, VAWA, and the Clery Act will soon be available to all faculty and staff.
  • The University has provided and will continue to offer customized training for faculty and staff in various units relating to this area.

Please familiarize yourself with the resource Guide and the SHARE website, participate in the online program when it is available, and seek customized training where appropriate. This information will help you assist victims and act in accordance with the law. 

Student training:

In addition to these efforts targeted at faculty and staff, the University, primarily through the Division of Student Affairs, is continuing and increasing its sexual violence awareness and prevention training for students. The purpose of this training is to educate our students on their rights and responsibilities under Title IX and the Violence Against Women Act/Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act. Topics include healthy relationships, protecting themselves and others against sexual violence, recognizing the signs of abusive behavior, avoiding potential attacks, exercising safe and positive options for bystander intervention, and using applicable administrative and reporting procedures. 

It is only through the efforts of everyone that we will enhance our University’s safe environment. The University of Pittsburgh is committed to supporting you by providing the needed prevention and education information for all members of our community on this important topic. Every member of our community shares in the responsibility to build and nurture a campus culture characterized by respect for others and one that is free from sexual violence. 

Sincerely,

Patrick D. Gallagher