Combatting Sexual Misconduct and Supporting Survivors

Written by Stephen V. Sundborg, S.J.
June 12, 2018

Dear Seattle University Community,

This past year ushered in a heightened focus nationally and globally on sexual harassment, abuse and assault. It is an issue of critical importance to Seattle University and all of us as students, faculty and staff. The increased attention has led to conversations across campus about how we are facing these issues and have been acting to address them. They are important conversations for all of us to engage in openly, honestly and critically.

I felt it was important to write to you after the recent retrospective on sexual misconduct by some of our student journalists. While their coverage contained several notable inaccuracies and omitted important facts and context, let us keep in mind they are drawing attention to an important topic.

Here at Seattle University we are deeply committed to building upon the work that has been going on for many years to protect children, support survivors of sexual misconduct and prevent sexual harassment and abuse. I have included below a list with additional information and resources that you may find helpful.

As a Catholic and Jesuit university, there is no question we have a special obligation to do more and show leadership in combatting sexual misconduct. We are continually learning, adapting and asking how we can do better for our students, faculty and staff. From faculty and staff experts to deans, cabinet members and trustees it is something we all take seriously and stay engaged with in a variety of ways. In the past few weeks alone, the cabinet and I have had the opportunity to meet with and hear directly from several student leaders about their views on sexual misconduct and their desire to engage in conversation on ways we might do more, or better, particularly in terms of healing, care and support for survivors.

Over the course of the coming academic year, I am confident we will keep this topic central in our discussions and actions. I welcome suggestions about how we might continue to improve and build upon the work we have been doing.

Finally, I would like to offer a brief word about the Jesuits serving at Seattle U. They animate the university, our mission and the values we strive to uphold. Like many others here on campus, I can attest to their wisdom, kindness, character and integrity. Let us not lose sight of their many contributions and sacrifices in service of others.

Sincerely,

Stephen V. Sundborg, S.J.
President

 

The following reflects Seattle University’s commitment to protecting children, supporting victims of sexual abuse and preventing sexual harassment and abuse.

The following policies, initiatives or programs are representative of Seattle University’s commitment to protecting children, supporting victims of sexual abuse and preventing sexual harassment and abuse.  

Seattle University’s Commitment to the Protection of Children 

Seattle University is committed to the safety of all individuals in its community and has particular concern for children, who require special attention and protection. The university has adopted policies and protocols and established training programs to strengthen its commitment to protect children and support survivors of sexual misconduct. 

  • Seattle University’s Policy Statement on Reporting Suspected Child Abuse or Neglect (link): This policy is consistent with Washington State’s Abuse of Children Law, RCW 26.44, (link) and requires all Seattle University employees, including faculty, staff, administrators, temporary staff and student employees who have reasonable cause to believe that a child has suffered abuse or neglect to immediately report the suspected abuse or neglect to law enforcement or the Department of Social and Health Services. 
  • Training on Protecting Children and Identifying and Reporting Sexual Misconduct: During the 2017-2018 academic year, the university established an online training program on protecting children and identifying and reporting sexual misconduct. The university identified the Athletics Department, Conferences and Event Services and the Center for Community Engagement to pilot the training program because those departments organize and operate significant programs, events and activities that involve children, including youth sports camps and clinics, summer conferences and K-12 enrichment and extended learning programs. The university will offer the training program for other departments beginning next academic year.  
  • Contractual Requirements for Third-Party Use of University Facilities: Third-party organizations that rent the Redhawk Center, Eisiminger Fitness Center and other university athletic and recreation facilities for programs, activities and events involving children are contractually required to comply with mandatory reporting obligations under applicable state and federal laws relating to child abuse or neglect. In addition, the organizations are required to comply with the university’s Policy Statement on Reporting Suspected Child Abuse or Neglect and provide a copy of the policy to all of their employees and participants.  

Seattle University’s Commitment to Victims of Sexual Abuse 

Seattle University is committed to support victims of sexual abuse.  

  • Seattle University’s Nondiscrimination Policy (link): In accordance with this policy, the university does not discriminate on the basis of one’s status as a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking in its employment related policies and practices.  
  • Reporting Options and Resources for Students: The Office of Institutional Equity (OIE) has published a guide (link) listing reporting options, on and off campus resources and other information for student survivors of sexual misconduct. Faculty and staff can also make reports or seek services from the OIE. 
  • Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) (link): CAPS is a team of licensed clinicians that can provide counseling and therapy for students coping with the impact of sexual misconduct.  
  • Campus Ministry (link): Campus Ministry welcomes people of all faith traditions and spiritual practices into individual conversations with a campus minister about experiences of sexual misconduct.  
  • Office of Diversity and Inclusion (ODI) (link): ODI aims to promote inclusive excellence in the university’s teaching, research and service activities. ODI visions a welcome, open and safe campus climate for all who learn, live and work at Seattle University. ODI is leading a university-wide initiative to develop a bias prevention program and bias incident response protocol.  
  • Health and Wellness Crew (HAWC) (link): Students in HAWC are certified peer health educators who host educational programs on campus and are available for private individual consultations. 
  • Wellspring Employee Assistance Program (EAP): The EAP is a university-paid resource available for employees and their family members to use when they are experiencing personal or professional problems or need a resource. The purpose of the EAP is to help identify and address challenges in a confidential, nonthreatening, effective and positive way. Wellspring’s EAP is staffed with licensed clinicians and skilled behavioral health care professionals who will assess your needs and refer you to a local provider if appropriate. To access the EAP call Wellspring at 800-553-7798 or visit online (link) and enter username “Seattle University” or contact HR at 206-296-5870 for more information.  
  • Confidential Reporting Line: Members of the community can make the university aware of concerns through the EthicsPoint reporting line at 888-393-6824 or online at (link). 
  • Office of the Faculty Ombudsperson (link): The Faculty Ombudsperson is a designated neutral or impartial facilitator whose major function is to provide confidential and informal guidance to the university’s faculty. 
  • Take Back the Night: An annual event at SU and around the country to raise awareness of sexual violence, educate and promote its prevention. This event features a march around campus and a survivor speak out. 
  • Clothesline Project: This awareness program makes visible the presence of violence in our community in a way that cannot be ignored. Annually, these T-shirts are hung on a clothesline around campus and at Take Back the Night. 

Seattle University’s Commitment to Prevent Sexual Harassment and Abuse  

Seattle University is committed to maintaining a learning and working environment free from sexual harassment and abuse. 

  • HR Policy Manual: This manual includes the university’s policy prohibiting sexual harassment and procedure for filing a complaint. (See Section 13.5 and Appendix C, link).  
  • Employee Harassment and Discrimination Training: All new employees are required to complete an online harassment and discrimination course within 30 days of their start date and to complete additional training every two years. 
  • New Employee Training: All new employees, through New Employee Orientation or New Faculty Institute, receive in-person training on harassment and discrimination resources and options available to them, as well as training on how to respond to students who disclose they have experienced sexual misconduct. 
  • Sexual Offenses, Domestic Violence, Dating Violence and Stalking Policy: The Code of Student Conduct includes this policy, which sets out the complaint and investigation procedure for students, describes possible interim measures and lists on and off campus resources. (See Section 4.6, Code of Student Conduct, link). The Assistant Vice President for Institutional Equity and Dean of Students oversee all investigations and appoint either an internal or external investigator or investigative team to conduct a prompt and fair investigation of the complaint.  
  • Student Sexual Misconduct Training: All new students are required to complete an online course called, “Think About It.” This program communicates our expectations and policies related to sexual misconduct. Additionally, it provides incoming students an opportunity to examine the importance of their role as a bystander in realistically preventing incidents of sexual misconduct. 
  • Green Dot: This program is a comprehensive strategy to communicate the norms in our community that violence will not be tolerated and everyone has a role in changing the culture. Green Dot offers regular skills based trainings to help students recognize and effectively respond in proactive ways. 
  • One Love: SU works with our national partners at the One Love Foundation (link) to address relationship violence on campus. The program empowers students to foster healthy relationships. 
  • Sexual Assault Awareness Month: April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and we take this opportunity to support survivors of sexual violence in our community, educate ourselves and take an honest look at the work still to be done on campus.  
  • Athletics Department Physician AgreementsThe university has entered into an affiliation agreement with Swedish Health Services that covers all physicians providing medical care to student-athletes on university property. The agreement requires Swedish to annually certify that each physician providing services to student-athletes maintains an unrestricted licensed to practice medicine in the state, is credentialed by Swedish, is a member of good standing of the Swedish medical staff, is competently trained and experienced to provide medical services and maintains adequate professional liability insurance. In addition, Swedish is required to notify the university of any disciplinary sanctions instituted against a physician or any actions for malpractice.  
  • NCAA Policy (link): Under the NCAA’s sexual violence policy, the Athletics Department is required to annually educate all student-athletes, coaches and staff on preventing sexual violence.