Preventing and Addressing Sexual Assault at Drexel
Recent national news has placed a focus on the federal government’s push to improve the way colleges and universities respond to cases of sexual assault on campus under the federal civil rights law commonly referred to as Title IX. Those federal efforts include President Obama’s formation of the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault, recently issued guidance by the Department of Education, the release of the names of colleges and universities against whom complaints have been filed with the Department of Education, and efforts by legislators to strengthen and improve existing legislation.
Drexel has put in place significant resources for responding to reports of sexual assault or other forms of sexual misconduct, and the University’s process encompasses a holistic approach involving the Drexel Police Department, the University’s Title IX Coordinators, the Student Conduct Process, Drexel’s Counseling Center and other appropriate resources.
I have great confidence in the systems we have in place for addressing and reducing the number of incidents of sexual assault and other forms of sexual misconduct at Drexel consistent with the requirements of Title IX, other relevant federal, state and local laws, and Drexel’s mission and values. However, we can, and we must, do more.
We must be a leader among universities by continuing to assess and improve how we respond to cases of sexual misconduct, and fostering the kind of safe and supportive environment owed to each and every member of the Drexel community.
Central to that effort is the University’s retention of Gina Maisto Smith and Leslie Gomez to conduct an assessment of our policies and processes for responding to matters covered by Title IX. Gina and Leslie are former sex crimes prosecutors, partners at the national law firm Pepper Hamilton and recognized experts in the institutional response to all aspects of sexual misconduct.
They will be reviewing Drexel’s relevant policies and procedures and will seek the input of faculty, students and professional staff who are involved in the University’s Title IX process, to gain a variety of perspectives to inform our actions going forward. The team has also created an online suggestion box; members of the Drexel community are invited to submit anonymous suggestions, questions or comments there.
We are confident that this review, which will be further informed by the most recent legal guidance, will assist us in ensuring that Drexel’s process and approach is in line with the most effective practices.
The University encourages anyone who has been a victim of sexual assault to make a report. Reports can be made to Drexel Police or 911, or directly to our Title IX Coordinator. Other resources and contact information for our Title IX Coordinator and Deputy Coordinators can be found on Drexel’s Title IX resource page.
We must continue to look critically at our practices on a regular basis, and make improvements that may be needed, particularly in an area as fundamentally important as the way in which we respond to allegations of sexual misconduct, including sexual assault. Drexel’s students, faculty and professional staff deserve nothing less.
John A. Fry