Students - April 14, 2021
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Students - April 14, 2021

Dear Campus Community,

You all may be aware that a group identified as Winthrop Students for Change has called for a community march, “Accountability and Action Now,” later this week. The group demands that “Winthrop University take accountability for mishandling sexual assault cases and take action to support survivors.

I want to take a moment to respond as I take this ongoing conversation seriously. The issues raised deserve the attention of all of us on campus. As with our handling of the pandemic, student safety and security remains at the forefront of our efforts to provide a healthy, nurturing environment where students can learn, live and thrive. We have listened to and will continue to listen to student concerns following the Johnsonian story. We are engaged in intentional discussion and planning at the highest levels of campus leadership. We have supported the student group that gathered on Wednesday of last week. Administrators were present, talked to students and are now reviewing results of a short survey this group circulated. We will continue to be responsive to student concerns.

Please let me address a few points. There continues to be an assumption that sexual assault cases have been mishandled. I understand that it is frustrating for those who want us to expand on the Johnsonian story. Unfortunately, due to privacy laws, we are unable to share specific information regarding cases, past or present. In regards to the 2017 Campus Climate Survey, which sought a baseline of response to sexual harassment/assault concerns, the results were reviewed and acted upon by many Winthrop officials including the then president, provost, vice president for student life and various staff. Concurrently, the university implemented mandatory annual Title IX training for all employees, which remains in effect and provides harassment and discrimination education annually to our faculty and staff. 

It is also important to know that federal guidance on Title IX has shifted considerably over the past presidential administrations, with additional changes likely under the Biden administration. We continue to pay close attention to the changing nuances of federal Title IX guidance. Additionally, we are reviewing how to best staff Title IX coordinator duties to keep pace with the changing guidelines. Finally, we are committed to issuing another Campus Climate Survey for next academic year so we can compare the current climate against 2017 and determine our next steps as part of our continuing efforts to adhere appropriately to the provisions of Title IX and cases of possible sexual harassment or assault on campus. We will be intentional about sharing the results of that survey with the entirety of our community.

As an institution, we take allegations of sexual misconduct seriously. The members of our Executive Leadership and I stand ready to take suggestions for continuing to improve how we respond on campus to any and all Title IX or other concerns regarding how we can continue to ensure this is a safe and supportive environment for our students. Your feedback can be shared with the Dean of Students, deanofstudents@winthrop.edu, who will share your responses with the Executive Leadership.

I am sharing this message with the whole campus community as part of my commitment to listening and moving this important conversation forward to positive solutions.

Sincerely,

George

George Hynd

Interim President

Last Updated: 4/14/21