August 4, 2015
For more than 11 months, our university has been involved in litigation that has fueled mistrust and divided our community. Today I would like to share with you that the University of Oregon has entered into a settlement agreement with the plaintiff in the “Jane Doe” matter. In approving this settlement, it is my hope that we focus our attention and considerable expertise on making our campus one on which all students will feel secure in the knowledge that they will be free from sexual violence.
The underlying incident that gave rise to the litigation is an affront to each and every one of us. As president I will not tolerate the victimization of any member of our community. Period.
As an attorney and former law school dean, I want to be very clear about what this settlement means and what it does not mean. I do not believe any of our coaches, administrators, or other university personnel acted wrongfully, nor do I believe that any one of them failed to live up to the high moral standards that we value and that they embody in their work every day. I do believe that we can no longer afford to debate the incident and must instead move forward and implement a comprehensive set of policies to ensure that all of our students will feel secure in the knowledge that they will be free from sexual violence and feel confident should allegations of misconduct be brought forth they will be dealt with fairly, effectively, and expeditiously.
Earlier this month, we took the first action in this new effort to promote campus safety by launching a new search for a Associate Vice President and Title IX Coordinator who will have direct responsibility for ensuring that we have robust and effective programs to prevent, investigate, and address allegations of sexual harassment and violence. The Title IX Coordinator will also help coordinate support services and accommodations for survivors to ensure that effects of the sexual violence are remedied. This position will report to me and to the Vice President for Student Life.
We cannot wait for the new Title IX Coordinator to join us before implementing new programs on sexual violence and harassment. So, we are announcing a set of new investments to hire additional staff (professional and student peers) who will work with our students and existing staff to prevent sexual violence and harassment. We will also add an additional professional who will focus on the investigation of allegations of sexual assault and harassment.
Each of these responses is consistent with the recommendations of the University Senate Task Force to Address Sexual Violence and Survivor Support, and the President’s Review Panel. I would like to express my gratitude to the faculty members, staff, outside experts, administrators, and students who served on these two important bodies. Their careful work enabled me to act swiftly upon taking office just last month.
In closing and at the risk of redundancy, I want to be clear. The University of Oregon will not tolerate sexual assault or sexual violence. We will teach our students to respect each other. We will teach them to look out for each other. We will show our students that we have zero tolerance for sexual violence by expeditiously investigating and taking action without sacrificing due process. We will not rest until we succeed.
Michael H. Schill
President and Professor of Law