By Webster University President Elizabeth Stroble
This letter to the editor from President Stroble is in response to “Webster sexual assault policy needs drastic reform,” a letter written by Webster University alumna Mackie Saylor for the Nov. 12. issue.
To members of the Webster University community:
Webster University has and continues to take sexual assault, sexual harassment, dating violence, domestic violence, stalking, sexual violence and other sexual offenses very seriously. We are committed to providing the safest possible environment for all members of our university community because this community cares about the safety of its members.
We demonstrate this caring and commitment in a number of ways, including the following:
1. Webster continually reviews and strengthens its policies and procedures to provide a safe environment and ensure fairness and compliance with changing federal laws. In fact, the Webster University Policy on Sexual Assault, Harassment and Other Sexual Offenses was last updated on Sept. 9 and applies to all Webster University students and employees, both full- and part-time, worldwide.
2. This strengthened policy is now more comprehensive in its principles as well as in the adjudication procedures outlined. Webster promptly and effectively responds to reports of sexual offenses and harassment and takes appropriate action to prevent, correct, and apply sanctions when it is determined the policy has been violated. Hearings and sanctions are exercised in compliance with policy and law. Webster’s policy provides for a range of sanctions based on the nature and seriousness of the act.
3. In response to the Fall 2014 Delegates’ Agenda presentation by student leaders, I am forming a Presidential Task Force on the Prevention, Education, Awareness and Programs for Sexual Assault and Other Sexual Offenses. Members of this task force will investigate and recommend additional means to prevent and address sexual misconduct at all Webster campus locations.
4. We have and will continue to evaluate and update our policies and procedures and to educate our university community in these critical matters.
5. Ongoing campus programming promotes personal empowerment, accountability and preparedness through education and training opportunities. Mandatory training for all faculty and staff surrounds these issues, and students have and will continue to receive training and education as well.
When complaints of these types are filed at Webster, we institute formal and informal procedures that assure fairness, due process and privacy for the individuals.
It is extremely important to note the university is legally bound by confidentiality in the matter of student incidents and is barred from comment due to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). This is why we do not and will not communicate the details of any such investigation.
I respect the rights of all students, faculty and staff to express their opinions in a respectful and orderly manner – consistent with Webster’s values. Through a shared commitment to a safe campus, Webster will continue to provide a learning environment in which generations of students have excelled and thrived.
Webster University has and will continue to work to address the issue of sexual assault, harassment and other sexual offenses and what that means in a college campus environment. I can assure you we will remain vigilant in finding more ways to ensure everyone’s understanding of these important topics, because this community and I care about community members’ safety.
The Webster University Policy on Sexual Assault, Harassment and Other Sexual Offenses is available in the Student Handbook and Human Resources Websites.