Sexual Respect a Denison Value
Dear Campus Community:
We are writing to invite you into a conversation about how to make sexual respect a driving value at Denison and how to rid our campus of sexual assault.
Sexual assault is never acceptable, and we need to create a world where it never happens. Colleges must lead the way and Denison should strive to lead among colleges. Doing so will require every member of our community to step up and into this space. We are writing this letter to vow our commitment to seeing this work through, as leaders of the college.
We want to be as clear as we can be: we want Denison to be a place where sexual respect is a foundational value. By this, we mean that all members of this community act with integrity and fundamental care for each other in their relationships. In a place where sexual respect is foundational, sexual assault simply will not happen. We believe and have seen firsthand that most Denisonians share these values, and yet sexual misconduct continues to be reported and investigated, and we know that many more incidents are not reported.
Culture change is difficult and complicated. But one mark of a great college is that it is open and honest with opportunities to be stronger, healthier and better, even—perhaps especially—in the face of the most difficult issues. Great colleges do this work in an inclusive and transparent way. For us, this means bringing together diverse groupings as co-creators of ideas and solutions. In other words, we find ways to bring members of the community together to share ideas, experiences and understanding in an open and direct way, using differences as a source of strength for understanding issues and taking action to design and implement effective solutions.
To get change underway, we will convene students, faculty, staff, alumni, and trustees over two evenings of dialogue dinners this fall; our hope is that at least 200 members of the Denison community will participate, forming groups of a dozen individuals representing different parts of our community. Over the course of a two-hour dinner, the groups will focus on questions designed to generate better understandings and ideas for our work at Denison. These conversations are designed to be an open and honest exchange of ideas and experiences about our campus.
We believe the observations and ideas put forward will be powerful and will guide us to action. We will collect the information and craft a series of follow-up conversations to develop specific action items that we will work on together as a community. Some of these may be highly experimental, but we’re interested in breaking new ground. The goal is to come up with clear actions that can move us forward in a visible way towards becoming a campus where sexual respect is a driving value and sexual assault never happens.
We have asked the Dean of Students, Bill Fox, and Dr. Rebecca Homan, Associate Professor of Biology, to put together a steering committee of students who can help us organize the dialogue dinners. As part of this work, the steering committee will reach out to faculty and staff to gather advice and input. We invite, and need, community-wide participation. President Weinberg is going to stay heavily involved in this process.
This is an opportunity for us to do work together, as a campus community, that will both make our campus stronger while leading the way in higher education on the issue of sexual respect and eliminating sexual assault. We want Denison to become a national leader on one of the most important issues of our time. It is the right thing to do. We have fantastic students, faculty and staff who care about each other and the college. We can build on this foundation to do more and do better.
Adam Weinberg, President
Laurel Kennedy, Vice-President
Kim Coplin, Provost