Continuing the Conversation: How FSU Is Addressing Sexual Violence
The following is a statement from Liz Medcalf of FSU News and Media Services in response to a recent article published by The Bottom Line regarding the Title IX investigation. That story can be read here.
The Bottom Line highlighted the need for additional communication on how Frostburg State University is addressing sexual violence within our campus community. FSU’s leadership is committed to promoting a safe, inclusive and supportive environment through active educational programming, providing campus resources to victims and survivors, coordinating community resources, management of our Student Code of Conduct processes, and meeting our legal obligations to all parties involved. The information that follows is intended to provide information and open a continuing campus and community dialogue on this important topic.
Addressing sexual violence is a complex and challenging task. This is all the more reason that all in our campus community – starting with President Gibralter and campus leadership, but encompassing the President’s Advisory Council Against Gender-Based Violence, student affairs staff, committed student organizations and all faculty, staff and students – must continue to work together proactively on this issue.
Sexual assault on college campuses should be receiving the national attention that it has; this kind of spotlight can bring about necessary change. The White House push to raise awareness of sexual assault among college students and provide guidance and resources to campuses to help them address sexual violence is vital. FSU is proud to already have many of the new areas of guidance in place on campus and will address any outstanding areas immediately.
Among the efforts to promote transparency on the topic was a one-time release by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) of its list of 55 open Title IX inquiries, including one involving FSU. FSU being listed only means it has an open inquiry. As part of the OCR release, Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Catherine E. Lhamon stated that the office “…want[s] to make it clear that a college or university’s appearance on this list and being the subject of a Title IX investigation in no way indicates at this stage that the college or university is violating or has violated the law.”
No institution is perfect, including FSU, but we are committed to preventing sexual assault and supporting those who have been victimized. We know we can be better at addressing sexual violence and are working hard to meet the expectations of our students and community.
The University cannot discuss the specifics of the case highlighted in The Bottom Line. It is unquestionably a survivor’s right to speak out or not speak out in any case of sexual violence. However, a survivor’s choice to speak to the press does not change FSU’s legal and moral obligation to protect that student’s privacy, and the privacy of any other involved students, including the accused. Federal laws, including the Federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), prohibit the University from making public any details of confidential Student Conduct Hearings without the express written consent of the students involved.
The headings below link to overviews of the processes used on campus for preventing, reporting, reviewing and protesting accusations of sexual violence, as well as further information regarding the open OCR inquiry. By providing our community with information and resources, the University hopes to increase our collective ability to support and protect victims of sexual violence.
FSU’s goals are to support students to the greatest extent possible, make our campus and community as safe as possible and affirm that the University’s policies and activities in response to sexual assault are in full compliance with the law. In the meantime, FSU will continue its commitment to address this vital issue to achieve the highest level of safety for our students, employees and visitors.