(Editor’s Note: The following is a letter that was sent to UI faculty, staff, and students via email the morning of Thursday, Sept. 4.)
Dear Faculty, Staff, and Students:
I am writing because I want to talk openly with you about an important issue facing our university, an issue that I am personally concerned about and one that all of us must confront together—sexual assault.
Since the start of the academic year, in keeping with our practice of communicating openly about this issue, the Department of Public Safety has issued timely warnings about three sexual assaults committed on campus against students. I am grateful for the courage of the survivors who made these reports because it allows us to offer support, to investigate, and ultimately to hold perpetrators accountable.
We take sexual assaults very seriously. There is no excuse for this crime. It has no place on this campus. We must continue to address this problem, and we must not rest until it is eliminated entirely.
Last February, I announced our Six Point Plan to Combat Sexual Assault. It commits the university to do everything in its power to prevent sexual violence, to support survivors, and to hold offenders responsible. You can follow our progress online at president.uiowa.edu/six-point-plan.
When we rolled out the Six Point Plan, I promised that we would crack down on offenders, including making use of the most severe sanction that the university can impose, which is expulsion. We expelled one student in the spring semester, and today I can share with you that we expelled a second student in the summer term.
Today I am announcing that we have established our first-ever set of sanctioning guidelines for violations of our Sexual Misconduct Policy. You can read them at dos.uiowa.edu/policies/sanctioning-guidelines-for-sexual-assault. These guidelines help us send a clear message that violators will be held accountable for their behavior.
I appreciate the efforts of many Hawkeyes who are working hard to address the problem of sexual violence. I am especially grateful to the members of the Anti-Violence Coalition as well as the President’s Student Advisory Committee on Sexual Misconduct, led by Grant Laverty and Kira Pasquesi. These groups helped us formulate the new guidelines in addition to many other important efforts.
Much work remains to be done. The safety and well-being of every member of the University of Iowa community is of utmost importance, and I invite all members of our campus to play a role in confronting sexual assault.
Keep talking and teaching about it, keep challenging the belief systems that enable it to happen, keep supporting the survivors, and keep taking action that will make meaningful and lasting change. Let’s work with our partners on other campuses and help make Iowa a leader on this issue. Together we can bring an end to this crime.
The University of Iowa
Read the sanctioning guidelines here.