Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Events

April 02, 2014

Dear students,

MIT is dedicated to providing a safe environment in which all students can thrive academically and personally. Since President Reif asked me to focus on the problem of sexual assault early in my tenure as chancellor, I have met with faculty, staff, and students to learn about the prevalence and effects of sexual assault, initiatives in place to prevent it, and how MIT responds when it happens. Now I am writing to let you know about upcoming awareness and prevention events on campus, and to ask for your help in giving the Institute a clearer understanding of how sexual assault affects our community.

In the coming weeks, you will receive another email from me with a link to a survey about sexual assault at MIT. Students have played an important role in developing this survey, and your forthright answers will give us a deeper understanding of the scope and nature of the problem. You will also help us improve the Institute's education, prevention, and response efforts. I hope you will take the time to answer this important survey when it goes out.

April is also Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and I encourage you to attend MIT-sponsored events focusing on awareness and prevention. Additionally I will host small listening sessions so that students can talk openly about the issue of sexual assault at MIT, and help us bridge gaps in our knowledge that the survey is unable to fill. If you are interested in attending one of these sessions please contact Schuyler Daum at daum@med.mit.edu.

If you have been affected by sexual assault—directly or indirectly—you have several channels available for help. In MIT Medical, Violence Prevention and Response (VPR) offers information, support, and confidential assistance on their 24-hour hotline at 617-253-2300. Also the Title IX Coordinators and Investigator can meet with you privately to start the reporting process. And MIT Police are available to review options, and offer an online form for reporting an incident anonymously.

It is important to note that Title IX requires all MIT employees to report incidents of sexual misconduct to the Title IX Coordinator, except for employees who work in VPR, MIT Mental Health, MIT Medical, and the clergy. Read more about MIT policies and procedures, options available to survivors, and see a complete list of resources at sexualmisconduct.mit.edu.

As you might expect, MIT students are thinking creatively about awareness and prevention. For example the Inter-Fraternity Council is working with VPR and the Title IX Office to enhance existing training specifically for fraternity members. The new program will be added to MIT's Party Safe alcohol training, and includes bystander intervention techniques and guidance on supporting someone who discloses an incident. A pilot is underway, and I applaud these men for stepping up to address sexual assault where they live.

Please watch for my email later in April and complete the survey, and also get involved in this month's events. Working together we can better understand, address, and prevent sexual assault to ensure that MIT is as welcoming, safe, and supportive of students as it can be.

Thank you,
Cynthia Barnhart
Chancellor