Friday, September 1, 2017

Dear Howard University Community,

I write to share my thoughts on a matter that is extremely relevant, sensitive, and serious. Sexual assault and other forms of interpersonal violence are critical issues that will not be tolerated on our campus. It is a violation of the law and University policy. But more importantly, it is a breach that can diminish one’s humanity. 

At Howard, our unrelenting commitment is to foster and maintain an academic and work environment that is free of sexual assault, sexual harassment, and other forms of interpersonal violence. To this end, we must all work together to educate ourselves on applicable University policies and procedures that govern these issues. Equally important, we must all personally commit to understanding how to put an end to all forms of interpersonal violence, how to support survivors, and how to hold offenders found to have violated the policy accountable for their actions.

I have charged the office that administers our Title IX efforts to collect and analyze all data on reporting of incidents, length of time to complete investigations, and time needed to reach a resolution. This data will be used to improve our processes, policies, and procedures. The goal is to promote expediency and just resolutions while maintaining the dignity and privacy of all who are involved.

The three main resources available to the University community that focus on interpersonal violence are the Title IX Office, the Interpersonal Violence Prevention Program (IVPP), and Howard University Counseling Service. The Title IX Office monitors the University’s compliance with Title IX law and University policies and procedures in this area, conducts Title IX training for students, faculty, and staff, and conducts investigations when instances of interpersonal violence are reported. IVPP provides prevention and educational programs regarding sexual harassment, sexual violence, sexual misconduct, and other forms of interpersonal violence, offers guidance for reporting incidents, and facilitates support to victims. The Howard University Counseling Service offers psychological services, crisis intervention, clinical training, testing, research, and alcohol/drug prevention and education.

We are making strides to address sexual misconduct on our campus and we will continue to launch new initiatives throughout the year. Many of these initiatives have been informed by students, which is welcome and extremely necessary to our success. The actions we have taken to date to eradicate these issues include:

Ongoing In-Person Training

  • Federally Mandated Title IX training
    • All incoming first-year students (biannually)
    • All student-athletes (annually)
    • All incoming faculty (biannually)
    • All incoming staff members (weekly)
    • Title IX training of all Residence Life Assistants and Directors
    • De-escalation training for campus law enforcement

Ongoing Awareness Campaigns

  • Distribution of Sexual Health Care packets on interpersonal violence prevention in collaboration with Student Health
  • Education and awareness events sponsored by IVPP (monthly)
  • Awareness sticker campaign on bystander prevention strategies in collaboration with HUSA

Action planning with Students

  • Planning with students to inform and improve current processes and resources.

Myriad Support Services

  • Launching 4 new support groups through IVPP in September
    • Survivors of Sexual Assault
    • Healthy Conversations: Battling Interpersonal Violence
    • Queer Awareness of Support
    • Bystander Intervention

Increase resources

  • Added two new investigators to aid in increasing investigation turnaround times.
  • Adding an additional investigator this school year

Responding to and putting an end to sexual assault is a University-wide commitment. The time is now to take action to ensure that no member of our community ever has to withstand such anguish. We will continue to provide updates on an ongoing basis and look forward to continuous conversations with all members of the Howard family to advance understanding and solutions. There are numerous professional staff and resources available across campus to aid in this commitment. Those resources include:  

Support Services:

  • Interpersonal Violence Prevention Program: (202) 806-7647
  • Interpersonal Violence Prevention Program Director: (202) 836-1401
  • Howard University Counseling Services: (202) 806-6870

Investigations and Accommodations:

  • Title IX Office: (202) 806-2550
  • Department of Public Safety: (202) 806-1100
  • Office of Student Services: (202) 238-2420
This is an important issue that we take very seriously.
 
Excellence in Truth and Service,
Wayne A. I. Frederick, M.D., MBA
President