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President Alison Byerly sent the following email message to the campus community today.

To Members of the Campus Community:

I write to update you on some developments in the College’s continuing efforts to ensure a positive campus climate, and an environment that is free of sexual harassment and sexual assault.  This memo is not a response to any specific incident.  It outlines some actions we are currently taking in pursuit of goals outlined in the recommendations of the Campus Climate Working Group in June 2011 and as part of our compliance with federal guidelines.

As you are probably aware, sexual assault on college campuses across the nation continues to occur at an alarming rate.  In addition, students on many campuses are expressing dissatisfaction with institutional responses to these events, and federal guidelines have focused increased attention on the reporting structures and procedures used to address these occurrences.  Many colleges and universities are responding by reviewing their educational programs, policies, and procedures to ensure that they reflect best practices for preventing this behavior, and providing prompt and effective recourse when it occurs.

In order to ensure that Lafayette’s educational programs regarding sexual assault and harassment policies and procedures are in keeping with current practice, I am appointing a Presidential Oversight Committee (as outlined in Appendix B of the Faculty Handbook) to review each of these areas, gather the most current scholarship on the issue, and make any recommendations for change that may be needed.  The College last conducted a comprehensive examination of our sexual misconduct policies and procedures in the mid-1990s, and a review by the Oversight Committee will allow us to consider whether any changes are appropriate.

I will also ask the Committee to oversee the College’s policies, procedures and educational programs on an ongoing basis, and to continue to make recommendations for revisions and improvements in the future.  The Oversight Committee will consist of two faculty members, two staff members, and two students, to be appointed shortly. Additional members of the community may be asked to serve ex officio on the Committee in order to provide information or resources to the Committee.  The Committee will provide a report on the state of the College’s policies, procedures, and programs to the President on an annual basis.

Pursuant to Title IX, Title VI, and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (the federal laws that require recipients of federal funds to provide educational programs and activities that do not discriminate on the basis of sex, race, or disability, respectively), the College has designated a Title IX, Title VI, and Section 504 Coordinator to oversee the College’s programs in these areas.  I have asked Lisa Rex, Director of Human Resources for Employment, to serve as our Chief Coordinator, and John McKnight, Dean of Intercultural Development, to serve as the Deputy Coordinator.   Employee concerns will be overseen by Ms. Rex, and student concerns will be overseen by Dean McKnight.  Additional information on the committee and its work will be forthcoming.

It is clear from my discussions with colleagues about the important work of the Campus Climate Working Group that there is interest in hearing more about follow-up that has occurred since the report was submitted two years ago.  I have asked my senior staff to assemble that information, and we will shortly announce an open meeting for the purpose of reviewing progress made, and identifying areas where there is still work to be done.

I know that we all share a commitment to making Lafayette a safe and welcoming environment for all. Thanks in advance for your support of these efforts.

Alison Byerly


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