The following letter was published by the United Campus Ministries in The Dartmouth on February 9th, 2013 to coincide with the second annual symposium on sexual assault at Dartmouth College (which was postponed until April 6, 2013).
To the Dartmouth Community:
As the group of individuals who represent organized religious and spiritual life on the Dartmouth campus, the United Campus Ministries (UCM) is glad that increasing attention is being given to the significant problem of sexual assault. Although our members come from a wide diversity of traditions, we are united in the conviction that respect for the physical, emotional and spiritual integrity of each human being is a core value. Sexual assault and rape are absolute violations of this essential right to integrity, and they should not be tolerated in our community.
We come to the event today as part of our commitment to continue listening and learning from those who are best informed. We expect that our ideas and choices about how to pursue these issue will continue to develop as we approach this process in an open and respectful manner towards all parties involved.
That said, we strongly support the efforts that are currently underway to evaluate the effectiveness of Dartmouth’s approach to addressing this issue. We recognize that discussion about the right approach is ongoing, but we expect that it will need to include such things as increased community education and support services for victims, and revised disciplinary policies. We hope the College will move as quickly as possible to gather the best possible data about the extent and nature of sexual assault within our community and share this information openly. We urge the administration to listen to the many sources of wisdom within both the College and the local community, and integrate what they learn as they collaboratively craft a comprehensive strategy to create a community free of assault.
We urge the administration to show courage in being transparent with this process. Dartmouth has the opportunity to demonstrate the kind of innovation, leadership and excellence for which we want to be known. Truthfulness about our challenges, and action taken with conviction and integrity, can only lead to good outcomes.
As part of our own commitment to being active and competent partners in this ongoing work, we will take the following steps:
- Those UCM members who are available to do so will participate in community forums, seminars and other opportunities to learn about sexual assault at Dartmouth and will bring this information back to the larger group.
- We will undertake group training and education to ensure that each of us is capable of playing an effective role as potential “first responders” to reports of assault.
- We will continue to listen to and discuss the proposals that are being developed, and add our voices to the process as appropriate.
- We will raise this issue in our student groups, listen to what our own constituencies have to say, and encourage our students to get involved.
- We will continually reflect as a group on this and similar pressing issues on campus in order to serve the spiritual needs of this community most effectively.
The members of the United Campus Ministries pray for a safe Dartmouth campus, where each student can live with integrity and participate in a community that will help them to flourish physically, intellectually,emotionally, and spiritually.
United Campus Ministries