Letter: resources exist on campus for survivors

Dean of Students Stephanie Ives and Title IX Coordinator Andrea Seiss describe their commitment to survivors and to end sexual violence on campus.

As advocates and key campus resources for students who have experienced sexual misconduct, we appreciate the opportunity to offer some information and insights in relation to Temple’s efforts to eliminate sexual violence on our campus.

We Recognize

We recognize that campuswide, nationwide and worldwide, incidents of sexual misconduct are among the most under-reported crimes and have a long-lasting and significant impact on survivors. Through Temple’s “It’s On Us PA” grant, we have put forth an intentional effort to better define behaviors that are included in sexual misconduct in order to help students identify when they or a friend may be in need of support.

The scope of sexual misconduct includes sexual assault (such as unwanted sexual touching, coerced sexual activity and rape), stalking, dating violence, domestic violence and sexual exploitation (such as distributing nude photos or videos against the will of the subject). Unfortunately, a large proportion of college students has or will experience one of these behaviors. However, a cultural shift is occurring, and barriers that once stood in the way of survivors’ reporting are being eliminated by important social movements like #MeToo, the empowerment of voices against long-standing social tolerance of sexual transgressions and better enforcement of laws and policies.

Our Commitment

Temple does not and will not tolerate sexual misconduct. Students who have been victimized must have access to inclusive, caring and accessible campus resources for support and adjudication. We are committed to ensuring that our campus can be a safe place and that acts of misconduct are addressed and resolved fairly, impartially and in a timely manner.

We are focused on ensuring that Temple’s campus is a welcoming environment in which the academic rights and privileges of both the survivor/complainant and the accused student/respondent are not compromised. In alignment with historical and current guidance provided by the United States Department of Education, we strive to balance the rights and needs of all students, offering equal privileges and support when we receive information about cases involving sexual misconduct.

This commitment extends throughout university services that support survivors as they confront the difficult and often overwhelming decisions involved in disclosing information about what occurred. We understand that each survivor will want to tell their story in their own way, in their own time, sometimes to those they trust and other times to a professional from whom they have sought support. Staff members across campus, including the Title IX office, Tuttleman Counseling Services, Wellness Resource Center, the victim advocate within Campus Safety Services, Student Health Services, the Dean of Students Office and more, are well-trained to help. We want to help survivors understand the options that are available and provide access to the support needed for healing to begin. This support can be in the form of academic accommodations, the development of a safety plan, housing accommodations, no-contact orders and more.

How You Can Help

Quite often, the first person to whom a survivor of sexual violence will disclose information is a trusted friend or someone who is seen as a reliable resource (such as an RA, a team captain, an advisor or a faculty mentor). For those who find themselves in the trusted position of having someone disclose such sensitive, and often painful, information, we have some thoughts and advice.

First, listening with an open heart and mind is the most important gift you can give at that moment. Please don’t question, judge, or doubt – it’s not anyone’s place to stand in that position when being asked for support and help. Offering to walk a survivor to a campus resource for ‘options counseling,’ medical attention or support is a specific way that you can be helpful. Sometimes a survivor isn’t ready to take that step, and if that’s the case, leave the opportunity open for them to come back to you if they want your support in the future.

Sometimes supporters need comfort as well. If someone has disclosed such sensitive information to you and you are struggling to process it, you want help in guiding them or it is triggering for you, the same resources available to sexual assault survivors and those accused of sexual misconduct are available to you. Please reach out. We care deeply and want to help.

The principles of care and concern are what guide all of Temple’s campus resources that are here to help our students. Sexual violence is fundamentally unacceptable and needs to be confronted consistently and eliminated completely.

Stephanie Ives, Dean of Students
Andrea Seiss, Title IX Coordinator

More information about specific support services, reporting options and policies can be found at sexualmisconduct.temple.edu. Stephanie Ives is the Dean of Students and Andrea Seiss is the Title IX Coordinator. They can be reached at stephanie.ives@temple.edu and andrea.caporale@temple.edu.

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