Johns Hopkins University President Ronald J. Daniels updated students, faculty and staff today on university initiatives against sexual violence and reported that the university has received official notification of a complaint filed with the U.S. Education Department. This is the text of his email message.
Dear Students, Faculty and Staff:
Sexual violence on our campuses, or anywhere, is unacceptable. It tears at the fabric of our university community; threatens the ability of our students, faculty and staff to pursue scholarship and discovery; and diminishes our capacity to realize our fullest individual and collective potential. The safety and well-being of all members of the Johns Hopkins community is among our most fundamental responsibilities and will always be our shared priority.
In May, news media accounts reported that a complaint had been filed with the U.S. Department of Education regarding Johns Hopkins’ response to incidents of alleged sexual assault. I want to share with you that we have now received official notification of a complaint. The Department’s Office for Civil Rights is pursuing an investigation, and, in a conversation with OCR yesterday, we have pledged our full cooperation.
Nothing remains more important to Johns Hopkins than the welfare of our students, and although the OCR notification does not contain any specific details about the underlying allegations, we will continue to take strong action to improve and to lead in this evolving area of the law and practice.
With this in mind, the university over the past year has undertaken a comprehensive self-assessment – reviewing policies and procedures on sexual violence and developing new initiatives to support our students and enhance the safety and security of our campuses.
We have begun a thorough review of our performance in meeting our obligations under the Clery Act, the federal law requiring that colleges maintain information about crime on or near campus to provide accurate, complete, and timely information to campus communities; and we are nearing completion of the independent review jointly commissioned by me and our Board of Trustees chair Jeffrey Aronson to review the incidents described in the May news media reports, inform our efforts and hold ourselves accountable for any errors or misjudgments.
In addition to these formal reviews, we have marshaled and expanded our university’s resources to enhance the support, services, processes, education and training needed and requested by our community members. A new Sexual Violence Advisory Committee of students, faculty and administrators will help us identify and implement informed and effective practices. A new website launched this summer provides clear, accessible, and consolidated information on sexual assault policies and available services and support in the event of an incident of sexual assault. We also have participated in the efforts of the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault and are working with our colleagues across higher education to respond to the call for new solutions to the complex issues that arise in sexual violence cases.
These efforts speak to our university’s firm commitment to meeting the challenges we face in protecting our students from sexual violence – offering support to victims, holding offenders accountable through fair and impartial processes, educating our community, and informing students, faculty and staff of serious or continuing threats to campus safety.
Addressing a challenge of such urgency and importance as campus sexual violence demands multi-faceted analyses and honest reflection on both our successes and our failures. It requires an acknowledgment that we can, and will, strive always to do better, guided by our core values of humanity and excellence. We commit to keeping you apprised of our efforts, and we hope you will continue to provide us your input in the days ahead.