August 29, 2014

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,

As I mentioned in my letter of welcome earlier this week, since my arrival at Trinity I have been talking with faculty, staff, and students as a way to help identify the priorities of the College for the next 12 to 18 months.  One of these priorities has already risen to a place of prominence, and this is our commitment to addressing the issue of sexual misconduct. By “sexual misconduct” I mean sexual discrimination, sexual harassment, sexual assault, intimate partner violence, stalking, gender identity violence, and all forms of sexual and gender violence. Doing all that we can to prevent sexual misconduct, creating ways that encourage students who are victims or bystanders to come forward, and assuring the soundest adjudication process should these incidents occur are priorities of the highest level.  For me, this is more than a matter of law; it is a moral imperative.

Today I am announcing the formation of a Task Force on the Prevention of Sexual Misconduct, which I will chair. This task force will spearhead Trinity’s initiative to assess and improve our policies, procedures, and training for preventing and responding to sexual misconduct, with the goals of preventing sexual misconduct, encouraging reports of such misconduct, improving our response to reports of misconduct, and complying with federal and state laws and best practices. I have named the following individuals to the task force, and others will be added once the semester begins:

  • Fred Alford, Dean of Students
  • David Andres, Special Assistant to the President
  • Christopher Card, Associate Dean of Students
  • Beth Iacampo, Director of Human Resources
  • Mary Jo Keating, Secretary of the College and Vice President for College Relations
  • Laura Lockwood, Director, Women and Gender Resource Action Center
  • Robert Lukaskiewicz, Associate Dean of Students
  • Tom Mitzel, Dean of the Faculty and Vice President for Academic Affairs
  • Paul Mutone, Vice President for Finance and Operations and Treasurer
  • Francisco Ortiz, Director of Campus Safety
  • Mike Renwick, Director of Athletics
  • Karla Spurlock-Evans, Dean of Multicultural Affairs, Senior Diversity Officer, and Title IX Coordinator

I want to emphasize that the task force’s work will include an ongoing and evolving dialogue with the full campus community. The work of the task force will begin immediately. As part of these efforts, the College will also establish by January 1, 2015, a campus resource team whose work will flow from the overall direction of the task force.  All of these efforts will include key stakeholders, such as students, concerned student groups such as members of the LGBTQ community, local law enforcement, RAs, members of the College’s Counseling and Health centers, survivors of sexual assault, and providers of victim support services, among others.

There are many excellent programs and people that Trinity already has in place in order to educate students about sexual assault prevention and to encourage them to come forward if they are victims or bystanders.  Some of these programs were pioneering when they were introduced, and others, such as the Trinity Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) and our bystander intervention training for students called BANTS (Bantams Negating Traditional Stereotypes), have been foundational in our efforts. Trinity’s Women and Gender Resource Action Center, led by Laura Lockwood, continues to be a very important resource for our students and a leader in implementing programs to prevent and address sexual misconduct.  And our Campus Safety Department, led by Director Francisco Ortiz, has instituted changes throughout campus to increase safety, such as an increased staff of officers that includes a team on foot at night, more lighting throughout campus, enhanced security capabilities, and more student education on ways to ensure one’s personal safety. Yet Trinity can and must do more. And we will.

You have my commitment to ensuring the success of these efforts and to our goal of a campus environment that does not tolerate any form of sexual misconduct.  I will report back to you as we move forward with this work, and I welcome your feedback.

Tomorrow, our incoming first-year students will participate in the sexual violence education and bystander intervention play called Speak About It, followed by small-group discussions led by RAs and first-year mentors, as part of their orientation to Trinity.  This program is a timely example of the foundation on which we will build.  I ask you to join me in this most important effort.


Joanne Berger-Sweeney
President and Trinity College
Professor of Neuroscience