President's Initiative to Prevent Sexual Misconduct: Our next steps

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

In a campus-wide email, President Kaler announced his President's Initiative to Prevent Sexual Misconduct

Our determined efforts to combat sexual misconduct continue. We must take next steps to ensure safety, respect, and a culture that reflects our deeply held institutional values.

As you may remember, late last year I convened an ad hoc working group that assessed our current efforts to prevent and respond to sexual misconduct -  including harassment and assault. In March, I pledged in my State of the University address to advance the group's recommendations.  

Today, our attention to this challenging issue is no less important than it was when the working group first met. 

Last week, I charged Twin Cities campus leaders with key responsibilities based on the working group's recommendations as we launch the President's Initiative to Prevent Sexual Misconduct. 

Five recommendations form the core of this initiative. They are:

  • To establish a President's Committee to Prevent Sexual Misconduct;
  • To enhance student education and engagement, especially beyond students' first year when Twin Cities students receive significant education about this issue;
  • To create a sustainable public health/public awareness campaign;
  • To develop metrics for evaluating our sexual assault and misconduct prevention, education, and advocacy and awareness activities on campus; and
  • To develop and require training around sexual misconduct issues for all faculty and staff.

Earlier this month, the University and Student Senates passed a "Resolution on Equal Opportunity and Title IX Training," which requires training for all employees. I sense the University community is increasingly unified in our desire for long-term culture change, and we are ready to do the hard work necessary to create that change.

I have asked School of Public Health Dean John Finnegan to oversee this work and report back to me by October 1. This work will be focused on the accountability, awareness and education that we, as a campus community, must continue to enhance together. But it also must recognize that sexual misconduct of all types is a difficult and critical public health issue that affects all institutions  - higher ed and otherwise - across the country.

To that end, collaboration with all faculty, staff, and student groups is essential as we work together toward lasting change. I have asked Dean Finnegan and other leaders to engage in full consultation with all stakeholders. I also have asked our Chancellors in Crookston, Duluth, Morris and Rochester to identify similar programs or recommendations that are appropriate to the needs of their campuses. 

I firmly believe the work of the President's Initiative to Prevent Sexual Misconduct will put us on an important and necessary path to tackle this unacceptable epidemic.