Letter on Title IX

Notre Dame Skyline

April 18, 2016

Dear Students,

As we observe Sexual Violence Awareness Month, it is an opportune time to state emphatically, as we have done on other occasions, that sexual assault has no place at Notre Dame, where we value the dignity of each person and pride ourselves on being a community that cares. We know that Notre Dame is not immune to sexual violence. Most often, instances of sexual misconduct involve people who are not strangers but who know each other and are part of this community. We must acknowledge this reality as we strive to eliminate sexual violence on our campus.

I write to you today to share the results of a recent campus survey on topics related to sexual misconduct, as well as to reinforce steps that the University has taken, and will continue to take, to combat such misconduct.

Last spring the University administered a comprehensive campus climate survey aimed at assessing the knowledge, perceptions, and experience of Notre Dame students in relation to sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking. In the last year, many other U.S. universities have administered similar student surveys.

On our campus, about 4,500 students completed the survey, with a response rate of approximately 38% for both undergraduate and post-baccalaureate students.

You can read about the findings of the 2015 Campus Climate Survey here, where you will find both a Results Overview prepared by the Office of Student Affairs as well as the complete survey results.

Notre Dame has in the last several years expanded in significant ways the resources in place for sexual assault prevention, education, reporting, investigation, adjudication, and support. I can assure you that we take allegations of sexual assault very seriously. A review of conduct hearings over the past decade shows that all students who have been found responsible for non-consensual sexual intercourse were permanently dismissed from the University.

I want to take this opportunity to thank the many committed student leaders, administrators, and faculty who work to address harmful attitudes and behaviors that contribute to sexual violence.

As positive as these steps are, there is more we can do as the Notre Dame community to address sexual violence, and the survey results reflect this reality. The Committee on Sexual Assault Prevention (CSAP) has worked over the past several months to review the survey results and last week forwarded a series of formal recommendations to Erin Hoffmann Harding, Vice President for Student Affairs, for consideration. CSAP is continuing the process of listening to student experiences as it conducts focus groups this month.

To learn more about the resources in place as well as how you can get involved in addressing sexual violence on our campus, visit the enhanced website for students, faculty, and staff, now at http://titleix.nd.edu.

Eliminating sexual assault is a critical priority, for me and for our community. I am deeply grateful for the candid input of those students who participated in the climate survey, the thoughtful deliberations of CSAP, and all students, faculty, and staff who are working to make our campus one that is free from sexual violence. Let us each commit to doing our part and moving forward together.

In Notre Dame,

Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C.