Students - April 28, 2021
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Students - April 28, 2021

Dear Campus Community,

I am writing to follow up with you on student concerns regarding sexual harassment and assault on campus. Two weeks ago, I wrote to share that our leadership is actively listening to students to gain a better understanding of their perspectives, and I am pleased to say that we are making progress in charting a way forward.

We have heard from our students and learned that we can do more to make students feel safer on our campus. While I believe that Winthrop is a safe campus and has responded appropriately to complaints of sexual misconduct, there is still much to do to make this as safe a campus as possible. With that goal in mind, we are…

  • Initiating the steps to develop a new position at the university that will be dedicated to Title IX.  The duties of the Title IX coordinator will transfer to that position once a person is hired, and students will be represented on the search committee for the coordinator.
  • Working with outside legal counsel to ensure our Sexual Misconduct Policy is up to date and reflects recent changes to the guidance for investigating complaints.  The new guidance, for example, allows for students to appeal a decision not to investigate.
  • Partnering with a third party to offer a Campus Climate Survey in the 2021-22 academic year and revisiting the 2017 survey to evaluate progress on recommendations of that survey.
  • Hiring an external consultant to evaluate our Office of Victims Assistance and counseling services for best practices and to make recommendations regarding our offerings.
  • Incorporating additional Title IX awareness and training for Resident Assistants and other staff who are often among the first to hear from students about sexual misconduct.
  • Following up the Not Anymore required student training with Title IX specific education for cultural event credit annually in the fall.
  • Using the summer to assess our security systems, including exterior lighting, cameras and emergency phones.
  • Raising the visibility of September’s annual Campus Safety Awareness Month activities to shine a light on sexual harassment and assault prevention.
  • Offering structured programming to support victims, address sexual harassment and assault within special populations, combat sexual assault myths, and inform students about the “red zone,” among other topics.

It is worth noting that we have a diverse student body that is largely women and as well includes a number of LGBTQ students. These groups are more likely to be targets for sexual harassment and assault. We understand how important it is for all students to feel protected and valued in their Winthrop experience. We also have a campus that is known for civic engagement and the vital role of student voices in making change. This environment creates fertile ground for positive action to grow from student concerns, and I am eager to be a catalyst to address needed changes.

Next week I look forward to ending a challenging year as close to 1,000 Winthrop students complete their higher education journeys when they cross the Commencement stage in person on May 6-8. After the ceremonies, however, our celebration will quickly shift to keeping our promises to current and future students and their families as we ensure we are not only offering a safe and secure campus, but also doing all we can so students feel safe and secure during their time at Winthrop. I will update you on our progress. I continue to be encouraged by your shared voices and concerns to make Winthrop an even better institution.

Sincerely,

George

George W. Hynd

Interim President

Last Updated: 4/28/21