Help Us Prevent Sexual Assault

President Rebecca Chopp and Dean of Students Liz Braun

Dear Students,

There are some issues on any College campus that warrant our unyielding attention. Sexual misconduct is one of them. In November we encouraged everyone in our community to join us in working actively to prevent sexual assault on our campus. We also shared what we have been doing to continue to improve our institutional response to this serious issue.

Based on the current discussions that have emerged both online and in conversations on campus about sexual assault, we feel compelled to address this issue again, remind everyone of the resources available, and express our responsibilities to one another as members of a community with shared values.

We want specifically to draw your attention to Swarthmore College's Sexual Misconduct Policy and to encourage you even more vigorously to come forward if you know of, or have yourself been, a victim of sexual assault or misconduct. We do not want to minimize how difficult this can be, and we are committed to create an environment in which survivors feel they have safe spaces in which to share their pain. Our goal is to reject silence and support survivors who come forward. Encouraging friends to seek help from our circle of support is a powerful action we can all take. We believe that it is only by uniting as a full community and expressing our intolerance for sexual misconduct that we will make progress in this troubling area. We want to draw your attention to a section of the misconduct policy addressing retaliation, which explicitly states, “Any [person] who files a complaint, or participates in a resolution process as a witness, has the right to freedom from intimidation and retaliation.”

Our policy strictly prohibits sexual misconduct by any member of the College community. Please take time to read it carefully on the web and download the Sexual Misconduct Resource Chart. The objectives of the policy are to take appropriate measures to prevent sexual misconduct from occurring, to investigate reported incidents, to adjudicate and discipline where appropriate, and to provide support for any members of the community harmed or otherwise affected by sexual misconduct.

We have been aided in our recent efforts by a wonderful new, experienced team of administrative support including Sharmaine LaMar in her capacity as Title IX coordinator; Beth Kotarski, director of the Worth Health Center, who with the assistance of Patricia Fishette from CAPS has taken on oversight for student sexual assault support services; Mike Hill, director of public safety; and Joanna Gallagher, associate director of public safety, who is now serving as deputy Title IX coordinator.

Through educational sessions and workshops with students, faculty, and staff, we are working hard to communicate our policies, the nature of our current support services, where students can receive confidential support, and who has responsibility for reporting sexual misconduct and assaults.

We must and we will continue these educational efforts. We look forward to your ideas on how we might improve communication and expand our educational and support services.

Along with Sharmaine, Beth, Patricia, and Joanna, we welcome your feedback and recommendations regarding ways in which we can continue to enhance the services we provide and heighten awareness of this troubling issue.

Finally, we want to draw your attention to the upcoming Clothesline Project and related events being held on campus from March 11-22. The Clothesline Project addresses the issue of sexual violence by providing a vehicle for people to express their emotions. For people who have been affected by violence, it is a means of expressing their emotions by decorating a t-shirt. After the shirts have been decorated, they are hung on a clothesline display. The intention of the display is to honor survivors and act as a memorial for victims. It is also intended to aid in the healing process for those who were directly affected and those who have lost someone special to violence. Lastly, the Clothesline Project display is to educate society and promote awareness, as well as to document violent sexual crimes.

Please note the following events sponsored by the Clothesline Project:

  • March 11 – T-shirt making for the Clothesline Project will occur in safe and private spaces. The SMART team will help coordinate, and further information will be available soon.
  • March 18 -- Tabling and Clothesline Project t-shirts will be set up in front of Parrish Hall every morning.
  • March 21, 7 p.m. -- Staceyann Chin is a spoken word poet, performing artist, and LGBT rights political activist. Her work has been published in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Pittsburgh Daily, and has been featured on 60 Minutes. She was also featured on The Oprah Winfrey Show, where she shared her struggles with coming out in Jamaica. Her performance is sponsored by Student Health Services, Student Wellness Program, SMART and the Dean's Office.
  • March 22, 12:30 p.m. -- Collection to close Clothesline Project.

We must continue to work together as a community to create a culture where sexual assault and sexual misconduct of any kind is not tolerated. These are complex issues that require all of us to think critically about our actions—as individuals and on an institutional level. Let us redouble our efforts to do all we can to prevent sexual misconduct from happening on campus and to provide support for survivors.

By working together as a community, we are confident we will continue to strive towards creating a harassment-free environment for everyone. We are and continue to be deeply committed to these issues.

Sincerely,

Rebecca Chopp
President of the College

Liz Braun
Dean of Students