(October 28,2004)To The Hobart and William Smith Community: I write at this time to provide you with an update on the recent assaults, to review some of the steps taken to date, and to request any ideas or suggestions that members of the community may have on how we might better address this challenging situation.
At the outset, I wish to express my gratitude to the community for the support and care given to the students involved in these incidents. The two students continue in classes and I am certain that they are sustained by the community’s support.
Secondly, I am personally appreciative for the leadership of our students, faculty and staff who have provided great counsel and assistance for many of the action steps outlined below. Student trustees and leaders from our student governments, Women’s Collective, athletic advisory committees, fraternities and others have addressed the issues with honesty and integrity. I have valued my meetings with CoFac and the AAC as we have provided them with updates and sought their counsel. Other faculty members have devoted time in the classroom for thoughtful conversations.
I am also grateful to the particular staff members who have shouldered this challenge with sensitivity and hard work. Together with Residential Education, Student Life and Leadership, the interim Provost and her staff, and the Deans’ and their respective staffs, these offices have all worked collectively to be responsive to the situation. Our Vice President for Administrative Services and his colleagues in Campus Security, Buildings and Grounds and others have taken immediate action steps. The Communications Office has responded to significant press interest this week with openness and accuracy. Given the heretofore unique nature of events, the community should know that many of our colleagues have worked with the diligence and the sophistication we expect at the Colleges.
What We Know
There have been two reported sexual assaults and one attempted assault since the beginning of the academic year. We do not know if all crimes were committed by the same person. The only description of the assailant we have from one of the incidents is: male, approximately 6’2″ tall, athletic build, wearing a dark hooded sweatshirt and pants, dark gloves and a mask.
Sexual assault is a serious crime and we will pursue every avenue to insure the safety of our students, faculty and staff. We will pursue every legal option to prosecute assailants. We will be vigilant and not tolerate sexual assault on our campus.
Safety Precautions and Support Services
In the past weeks we have been reminded of the prudent steps all of us should be taking in light of these assaults. I reiterate the importance of these steps here.
· Travel in groups in well-lit and well-traveled areas; after dark on campus use the shuttle service or call security for an escort if you feel unsafe.
· Lock doors and windows of your room/building especially during the evening/sleeping hours.
· Don’t prop open doors, thwart security measures, or let strangers into any residence hall / small house.
· Please have your keys with you and ready in hand to quickly access the door of your vehicle or building.
· If strangers approach, maintain a distance and be observant; if they are in a vehicle get the license plate number.
· Think ahead about what you would do under dire circumstances. Try to get a description.
· Report suspicious persons, vehicles or activities immediately to Campus Safety. All of us should assist Geneva Police Department and Campus Safety with any information that may be relevant to these incidents.
There are many support services on campus for students, faculty and staff. Here is a listing of important numbers:
· Campus Safety:
In the event of an emergency dial 781-3333
(prefix unnecessary when calling from campus phone)
In the case of a non-emergency dial 781-3656
(prefix unnecessary when calling from campus phone)
· Counseling Office – 781-3600
· Women’s Collective – 781-3803
· Hobart Dean’s Office- 781-3300
· William Smith Dean’s Office – 781-3467
Finally, it is my hope that the community may take some comfort in knowing of the steps taken to date. We all know that a guarantee of complete security is unrealistic but we will pledge our best efforts to securing a living, learning, teaching and working environment. Students should utilize student trustees and their representatives in governments, staff the AAC, and faculty the Committee on the Faculty to improve our efforts.
Campus Safety and Investigation
· The investigation continues with the Geneva Police Department, HWS Campus Safety in coordination with other law enforcement agencies in the area.
· The Geneva Police Department has increased patrols in our campus vicinity.
· The Colleges have retained the services of a retired police department investigator to provide dedicated support and counsel on these investigations.
· We have contracted with an outside security firm for two additional security officers for every patrol. They began on Tuesday evening (10/26)
· Campus Safety increased vehicular and walking patrols.
Student Services and Programming
· On-call van rides for students from 7:00 p.m. – 2:00 a.m. have been implemented. Over fifty rides were given in the first night of operations on October 27th.
· The shuttle schedule was revamped to provide more on-campus stops and increase the frequency of stops. The Daily Update posts the current schedule.
· A walking escort program labeled “Teammates” is tentatively scheduled to begin this weekend. In coordination with Campus Safety, this student-led initiative will provide fellow students a walking escort program from the hours of 8:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m. More information will be coming, please check the Daily Update.
· Alert whistles will be delivered to all students, faculty and staff on Friday, October 29th.
· Floor meetings and house meetings on issues of personal safety have been scheduled in addition to other planned programming through the offices of Residential Education and Student Life and Leadership.
Campus Buildings and Grounds
· Additional lighting will be installed in one to three weeks, depending on site and extent of work.
· Buildings and Grounds has evaluated the height and density of various shrubs and plantings throughout campus to provide a safer walking environment while also allowing more light to permeate darker areas on campus. Some of the projects that have been previously contemplated are now on an accelerated schedule. I realize this creates a stark change for some, but we will be planting additional shrubs in the fall and spring. These changes will be similar to those already completed around Trinity, Geneva, Smith and Harris.
· As we work to communicate all of these efforts on a timely basis to the entire community, I suggest that you visit the Daily Update for the most up-to-date information.
· At the recent fall meeting of the Board of Trustees I briefed the Trustees on events and our action steps.
· Both CoFac and AAC were briefed of the most recent developments this week.
· I have been meeting with key administrative and staff members every morning at 8:30 a.m. to discuss this situation.
· Parents were sent a letter last week in which I provided an update. You can read the letter at“Oct. 19 letter”.
· Student leadership has been meeting with the Deans, Residential Education, S