Johns Hopkins University released the following statement after allegations of gang rape at an off-campus fraternity:
The Johns Hopkins University is deeply committed to the safety and welfare of our community and to ensuring a safe environment for learning and scholarship. That commitment includes protecting our students from sexual violence, offering support to victims, dealing firmly and fairly with alleged offenders, and informing students, faculty and staff of serious and ongoing threats to campus safety.
For some time, the university has been directly engaged in a comprehensive effort to address students’ concerns about campus sexual assault. We take great care in our approach to these very serious situations and over the past year have undertaken a review of our policies and procedures and developed new initiatives to enhance the safety and security of our campuses.
A news media outlet reported last night that a complaint has been filed with the U.S. Department of Education regarding the university’s response to allegations of sexual assault.
The university was aware of an allegation of sexual assault that was made in March 2013. The decision not to notify the university community in that case was made after considering relevant facts and legal requirements, and in consultation with the Baltimore police department, which was leading the investigation. After the incident, campus security continued to communicate with law enforcement authorities.
We do not at this time have specific information about the other aspects of the complaint, and have not received it, but we are aware of student concerns, and indeed were prompted by those concerns to strengthen our approach to sexual violence.
With this ongoing priority foremost in our minds, and in light of the complaint revealed yesterday, President Ronald J. Daniels has today directed the university to commission a further independent review of the handling of the incidents contained in the complaint. The university is committed to scrupulous self-examination, and the review will begin immediately.
The Johns Hopkins University has a longstanding commitment across a number of fronts to address the issue of sexual violence, including anti-harassment and anti-assault policies and procedures for investigating and addressing reported incidents of sexual violence.
Among the reforms the university has implemented in the past year:
- The university has announced formation of a standing Sexual Violence Working Group including faculty, students, and staff from across the university, with a mandate to examine our existing programs and resources and propose new initiatives.
- The university instituted a 24/7 “safeline” on campus for victims of sexual assault. The trained counselors who staff this service can provide support and make sure students are fully aware of the options and resources they have open to them.
- The university has hired a sexual violence prevention, education and response coordinator, who serves in a dual role of educator and confidential advocate.
- New and expanded training programs for students and employees have been launched, including new bystander training and sexual assault and harassment workshops with student groups.
- This month, the university will launch a new standalone website on sexual violence prevention and response. At that site, students will be able to find everything they need: policies, procedures, resources and contact information.