In response to “On their own” published on April 26:
We appreciate The News-Letter’s focus on sexual assault in the April 26 edition, and welcome a continued dialogue on how to address and prevent sexual assault and misconduct on campus. We are writing to provide more information about how we’re addressing two important issues.
OIE’s goal is to accurately and expeditiously handle reports, complaints and investigations related to discrimination, harassment, and sexual misconduct, preserving an appropriate balance of care, speed, and due process. As cited in your coverage, the vast majority of cases related to sexual misconduct are closed within the 60-day target, but we know a substantial group of complex cases can take longer. A rushed process could undermine our recent progress but we recognize that timeliness is important to all parties in an investigation.
Since 2015 the University has significantly overhauled our sexual misconduct policies and procedures, and nearly doubled OIE’s staffing while increasing its spending by 60 percent. Increased training, the launch of an outreach and information campaign, and public reporting on our first sexual misconduct climate survey have helped elevate the office’s work and visibility within our community. But these efforts are far from complete. We constantly evaluate our progress, and the university is prepared to provide OIE with additional resources, if needed.
We have been undertaking a close review of caseload data to understand any impediments to prompt resolution, and we are developing a template for regular public reporting. We expect this report – including the number of cases filed and investigated, and data on the time-to-closure and disposition of cases – will be ready for review and input within a few months, providing the kind of transparency and accountability that will be key to building and sustaining trust with our students and progress in the long term. We will look to current partners, including the Sexual Violence Advisory Committee and the Sexual Assault Resource Unit, and other interested groups and individuals for feedback as we finalize this work.
In closing, we want to draw attention again to the University’s online complaint form http://sexualassault.jhu.edu/file-complaint/complaint-form.html, which includes the number for the 24 hour help line 410-516-7333. As we work together to strengthen OIE, we also want to urge members of our community to advance our common goal by reporting incidents or concerns about sexual misconduct or any other form of discrimination or harassment on our campus.
Kimberly Hewitt, Vice Provost for Institutional Equity
Joy Gaslevic, Assistant Vice Provost and Title IX Coordinator
Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The News-Letter.