In response to the recent letter to the editor of the Redlands Bulldog, it is appropriate for us to honor the courage and voice of the writer. I wish we could have even more public dialogue about cases, but there is much that is confidential and just can’t be said. We cannot revisit the matter of what happened completely – because we must respect the needs and rights of all those involved.
Amelia’s letter takes on some of the most complex aspects of life – interpersonal relationships, respect, sex, the potential for sexual misconduct, and the hurt and trauma that can result. There is a growing expectation, due in part to Title IX regulations, that colleges will “fix” the problem. Colleges do have a role to play in responding to such problems, but so do all of us. The most important thing I want students to hear is this: Let’s try very hard, each of us, to continually improve our respect and care for each other. No one should have to be a survivor. And yet, we know that many are. Let’s vow to treat each other with respect at all times, be good friends and “active bystanders,” and put an end to sexual misconduct. This is a human problem for all of us in the community and in society to address.
The University of Redlands certainly has a role too. Amelia states, “Things are getting better.” And that’s true. The University has substantially changed its policies and procedures over the last two years because we are dedicated to helping all students stay safe and to have recourse and fairness when things go terribly wrong.
Just as I am grateful to Amelia for telling her story, I am grateful to work with people throughout the University who recognize the incredible complexities and challenges that so many students face. Those complexities and challenges keep us humble and encourage us to be open to our own growth and improvement as individuals, as a community, and as a University. As I close, I ask each student to get a copy of the University’s Sexual Misconduct brochure, which really is a must-read for everyone. If you don’t have a copy, come by the Student Life office and pick one up. Information on the topic of sexual misconduct and the Title IX policy can also be found on the University’s website here. Let’s keep the conversation going so we can be better tomorrow than we are today. My door is open to you, as are the doors of many other faculty and administrators.
Charlotte G. Burgess
Vice President and Dean of Student Life