February 28, 2014
Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen of the board. Thank you for inviting me to talk with you about the problem of sexual assault. This is a very serious problem. It exists not only on our campuses but on every campus in the nation.
You have asked me to explain my remarks to the Daily Iowan. What I meant was that we need to recognize that violence and crime are unfortunately things we confront every day – and that this makes the issue complex and difficult.
Several members of our campus community have let me know that my remarks were hurtful. I did not intend them to be, and I am sorry for the pain my words caused. I have apologized individually as well as publicly for these remarks. And I have restated my position.
Yesterday, I held a listening session for all students, staff and faculty. This was very helpful and I and my senior staff came away with many good ideas that we are already putting into action.
I want to make my position very clear. I believe that there is no excuse for sexual assault. I have zero tolerance for sexual misconduct, and I know that sexual assault is never the fault of the survivor. The safety and well-being of every student is an absolute priority. The university will do everything in its power to prevent sexual violence, support survivors, and hold offenders responsible, and I have invited all members of our campus to play a role in confronting this issue.
The fact is, our university has made dramatic strides in developing resources and streamlining procedures that combat all manner of sexual misconduct:
- I appointed a sexual misconduct response coordinator, Monique DiCarlo, who reports directly to the university president and is empowered to take action to protect survivors and to assure that all parts of the university are working together on this issue.
- We have improved our web site to share information about options for survivors, including reporting and support services.
- For students, we’ve required mandatory education on consent and risk reduction.
- For staff and faculty, we have required mandatory training and provided clear instruction on reporting responsibilities.
- We have stepped up bystander-intervention training to help make prevention part of our university culture.
- We are issuing “timely warnings” whenever we receive a report of sexual assault or other offenses that can pose a threat to our campus.
- In addition to sexual assault, we have expanded our efforts to prevent domestic and dating violence, stalking, and harassment—behaviors that can lead to sexual violence. We’re also addressing the connection between high-risk drinking and sexual misconduct.
- We are taking every opportunity to confront sexual misconduct directly, talk openly about the problem, and together offer solutions. Yesterday, at the listening post, we heard many good ideas on what to do.
I have called on all of us at the University of Iowa to help protect each other and to create a culture where offenders are held accountable and survivors are supported and empowered. We will not stop working on this problem until every person on our campus is safe.
While I am proud of the progress our campus has made over the last six years, clearly we have more work to do. Our students have made that abundantly clear to me over the last week.
Today, I am announcing a Six Point Plan to Combat Sexual Assault.
As we do all of this, I am asking the board to provide guidance and support. Your commitment and attention to this issue are very much appreciated.
In closing, let me thank you again for the chance to speak to you about sexual assault, and let me express my appreciation for the work you are doing and will be doing on this very important issue.
I welcome any questions or comments.