To the UConn Community:
As your president for seven days and faculty at UConn for 12 years, I place student well-being and success as my top priority.
Given discussions that have been taking place over the last several days among members of the university community, mainly on social media, I’m writing to you today about sexual assault and intimate partner violence on our campuses.
As you know, UConn cannot (and would not) discuss individual students or specific cases publicly. But there is a great deal we can say more broadly. First and foremost: I want you to know that the health, safety, and well-being of all our students is our highest priority. UConn abhors sexual violence in all its forms and does all it can to provide victims with compassionate care, resources, and much-needed support in the face of their trauma.
We also have a solemn and serious obligation to do all we can to combat, prevent, and address sexual assault in our community through the most effective strategies. We want to eradicate sexual violence. But policies and procedures alone will not achieve this. We need to work together to continually shape a culture on our campuses that is rooted in respect, awareness, supporting one another, and an extreme intolerance towards any form of sexual violence. Because our population is ever-changing, this work is never ending and we can only be successful by working together.
No one should stand alone. To me, that is the unresolved question for our university: “What more must we do to support victims and increase education and awareness throughout our community?”
This question touches all of us and I will need your help. In the same manner with which I participated in the President’s Task Force for Mental Health and Wellness and the Climate Action Task Force, I have asked Dean of Students Elly Daugherty to join me in bringing together students, staff, and faculty to assess our current educational programs for students (including orientation and online trainings), how we support victims of sexual violence, and the university’s processes regarding sexual assault and intimate partner violence. Determining what more we can do will be an essential question for me and my administration.
Finally, I want to mention that, in addition to serving as administrators at UConn, many of us are also parents. The safety and security we want for our students is the same safety and security we would want for our own families. Every student should know that you are not alone. I care about you and am here to listen or help in any way I can, as are many others at UConn.
For more information on resources and reporting sexual assault, harassment, stalking, and intimate partner violence at UConn, visit our Office of Institutional Equity website.
Interim President, University of Connecticut