Nurturing a Safe Campus Community

Published On

Tue, 02/27/2018 - 4:21 pm

Dear Western Campus Community:

Like many of you, I have been deeply troubled in recent weeks by challenges that continue to affect many in our community, namely the continuing scourge of sexual misconduct and the lack of progress toward permanent protection for Dreamers.  I’d like to take this moment to remind you of the safeguards we have in place at Western, and to invite you to join me in identifying and eliminating sexual abuse and violence, and protecting our most vulnerable community members.  Keeping our community safe must be our number one priority, and it is an essential first step in creating a culture of compassionate care and values-centered leadership.  It must also be the responsibility of every single person on campus.

In recent weeks, the nation has been horrified by numerous accounts of sexual abuse made public during the trial and sentencing of USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University team physician Larry Nassar.  Equally troubling is the fact that it went on for almost two decades while university and USA Gymnastics officials, administrators, and coaches ignored, dismissed or silenced those who experienced his abuse. 

This incident, and so many others brought to light through the #MeToo movement, serve as a wake-up call for all of us to be vigilant and assume responsibility for preventing and reporting acts of sexual violence and abuse within all spheres of our lives and work. 

Western’s policies with respect to sexual misconduct as a form of sex discrimination are unequivocal: this kind of behavior will not be tolerated and all reports will be investigated.  If you have experienced, know about, or suspect any type of sexual misconduct, stalking, intimate partner violence, harassment or sexual violence of any member of our campus community, please contact the Equal Opportunity Office.  All Western faculty and staff are reminded that they are required to report known or suspected incidents of sex discrimination, including sexual harassment and sexual violence. 

I can only imagine how painful it is to come forward with information like this, but please be assured that these issues will always be taken seriously and handled in the most comprehensive and equitable manner possible.

It is important to note that in late September 2017, the Office for Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Education (OCR) rescinded prior guidance regarding universities’ responsibilities related to the investigation of reports of sexual misconduct.  I want to emphasize that Western’s commitment to preventing and responding to all forms of sex discrimination, including sexual harassment and sexual violence, is in no way diminished by the revocation of prior OCR guidance, and we continue to apply the stricter standards contained in our policies and procedures

Students, faculty or staff with questions about Western’s policies and procedures for investigating allegations of sexual misconduct are encouraged to contact the Title IX Coordinator, Sue Guenter-Schlesinger, at (360) 650-3307 or

Regarding DACA, the situation is no less uncertain than it was 12 months ago.  Western continues to work with local, state and national partners to advocate for preserving DACA, and our commitment to support our undocumented students and our policies with regard to immigration status continue unchanged:

  • Western does not enforce federal immigration law, nor does it undertake efforts with federal immigration authorities to investigate, detain or arrest individuals.  Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), or other third-party officials may not remove or interrogate a Western student or employee without a valid warrant signed by a judge.
  • Western does not contact, detain, question, or arrest individuals solely on the basis of presumed documentation status.
  • Western does not make enrollment decisions based on immigration status or by asking for immigration documentation (except where that information is necessary to establish whether a student qualifies for resident tuition or the Washington State Need Grant).
  • Western does not disclose records that reveal an undocumented immigration status unless we receive a court order or subpoena to do so.

Information and resources for those affected by DACA are available through Student Outreach Services, and are updated as new information becomes available.

Students at Western should be free to focus on their academic goals and their bright futures beyond graduation.  Please know that Western is committed to your safety and success.  Each of you is a valued member of this community, and you have my commitment that we will do everything we can to assist and support you on your journey.