It's on us to end sexual assault

April 3, 2015

Interim President Coltrane sent the following email message to campus:

Dear students and colleagues,

Welcome back to campus and to spring term. April is traditionally a time of hope and renewal. As I walk on campus, talk to students preparing for graduation, listen to faculty engage with colleagues, watch progress on the new EMU, and anticipate the arrival of a new president―I am filled with a great sense of optimism. The creative enthusiasm and problem-solving spirit of our students, faculty, and staff is our lifeblood. It is my inspiration each day.

I have appreciated that inspiration; because―in full disclosure―this has been a challenging time for the University of Oregon. We’ve weathered leadership transitions and a labor strike, sought new resources from lawmakers and donors, learned how to interact with our new governing board, and faced serious issues that threatened our students’ well-being such as meningitis and sexual assault. Our campus is still healing.

The start of spring is an ideal time to reassert some of our core values; and the start of Sexual Assault Awareness Month is the ideal time to tell you how the campus is working hard to rebuild our culture and move forward together to create a safe, responsible, and respectful campus.

Nothing is more important than the safety and well-being of our students, faculty, and staff. Sexual misconduct of any kind―harassment, stalking, and sexual violence―is unacceptable and will not be tolerated at our university. We must respect each other and take care of each other. We share the responsibility of demanding this culture.

If you experience sexual assault or sexual misconduct of any kind, please seek support by calling our confidential 24-hour information and support hotline: 541-346-SAFE (7233), or visiting the SAFE website: You can speak with a counselor who will explain your reporting options and connect you with support resources. This service is free and confidential.

After months of input and guidance, the UO has launched a comprehensive set of initiatives designed to both bolster and coordinate our efforts to prevent sexual assault and to support survivors when bad things happen.

The initiatives include the creation of a new Assistant Vice President for Campus Sexual Assault to coordinate the efforts across campus for prevention, education, support, and response to sexual violence. We are launching a national search for a candidate who has experience in this field and can dedicate 100 percent of their time to addressing this issue on our campus, both strengthening the areas in which we are doing well and identifying where we need to make improvements. The position will have authority, responsibility, and access to all of the divisions on campus that work to address sexual assault.

But this issue cannot be solved by just one person or office. It will take sustained, continuous commitment by everyone―and the university is committing resources across campus, including an additional $500,000 per year, to our effort to address sexual assault through new prevention and response staffing and programs.

The comprehensive plan we are developing focuses on oversight and accountability, prevention and education, and response and support. In addition to hiring a new campus leader to address sexual assault, we will:

  • seek more expert advice from a new permanent advisory council,
  • launch a bystander intervention program to encourage positive behavior and empower students to step up and prevent sexual assault,
  • increase the number of campus investigators and confidential reporters and,
  • expand our training, education, and prevention programs.

These plans are in addition to actions taken over the last 18 months to address sexual assault, which included hiring two new Office of Affirmative Action sexual violence investigators, creating new women’s self-defense credit classes, and amending the Student Conduct Code to improve process, accountability, and off-campus coverage.

I also want to reiterate our commitment to student privacy and the provision of confidential support at the UO Health and Counseling Center. Provost Frances Bronet sent this e-mail to campus in March emphasizing our commitment and desire to continue to improve our policies.

This month I hope everyone will take part in Sexual Assault Awareness month by attending one of the many activities on campus. I will be at several events including the Take Back the Night march and the Men and Allies United event. The full list of events is here. Please join me and our other campus leaders in this important effort.

I am optimistic that together we can make a difference and create meaningful change. This critical and important work to improve our culture is only possible if we all work together and commit to a respectful, safe campus. Throughout the last year, it has become very clear that it takes everyone―from bystanders and counselors to university presidents and legislators―to turn the tide on the epidemic that is sexual assault. It’s on us.

Scott Coltrane
Interim President