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Sexual Violence Prevention Update

By Contributing Writer on November 12, 2015

Dear members of the Colgate community:

In the days since last week’s protest and speak-out, I have had several positive and constructive conversations with students, professors, and staff members about the issues that gave rise to these expressions of frustration and outrage. Yesterday, I met with the students who organized the protest, and we discussed our shared goals and our similar desire to look forward, making progress against sexual violence and survivor support. This is a priority around which many at Colgate can and do unite, and I am personally and professionally invested in confronting this problem head on.

As we look to the future, I ask that we treat others with respect, whether in person or on social media. I am disturbed by recent Yik Yak posts directed at members of the campus community. Using anonymous social media for a negative and destructive purpose is not only cowardly but also undermines all that is good about our campus community. We have a record of these posts, and ITS and Campus Safety are investigating to determine what further action can and/or should be taken.

In times of disagreement and unrest, it is even more essential to reach out to each other with understanding and empathy. We must have a campus that is safe and welcoming for all. I know we can do this, and I ask you to be more supportive and caring with one another.


Suzy Nelson
Vice President and Dean of the College

Sexual Violence Prevention and Survivor Support Action Plan

By Contributing Writer on November 11, 2015

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff of Colgate University,

Sexual assault is one of the most hidden of all forms of violence. A smiling face conceals the pain; the fear of being ostracized, of being criticized, even of being blamed, imposes silence.

I write to acknowledge the courageous voices of those who participated in last week’s speak-out and broke the silence, and to acknowledge, as well, those who have engaged in forums that are less public — indeed, to recognize all students who, in their different ways, have had the courage to use their experiences and their suffering to make things better for others.

I write also to acknowledge the many students who have worked for change on campus, including those who insisted on the importance of holding a speak-out. Students have played an indispensable role in Bystander Intervention Training, the Yes Means Yes initiative, and This is Not a Play About Sex, as well as in groups like The Network and MASC (Masculinity and Sexual Climate). Students have met on this issue regularly with Dean Nelson and members of her staff during this semester. I know how important it is to work in partnership with committed students; they are essential to creating a healthy and more respectful campus climate.

I write, finally, to explain the concrete steps that administrators have taken already, and others that will be taken in the future. In addition to a number of recent and ongoing efforts in education and prevention, we will continue to strengthen services for survivors. Colgate’s Sexual Violence Prevention and Survivor Support Action Plan highlights many recent initiatives, including the hiring of two additional staff members in the area of survivor support and sexual violence prevention and response; creating a soft interview room not located in the campus safety building; implementing a sexual assault nurse examiner (SANE) program in partnership with Community Memorial Hospital; and offering increased training for staff, faculty, and student leaders. I will appoint an external review committee of experts in the field who will assess Colgate’s sexual violence and survivor support services and make recommendations for improvement. I have asked Dean Nelson to convene and lead a task force, to be composed of two professors, two SGA-appointed students, and two staff members. This task force will be charged with implementing Colgate’s plan, which will be informed by the external review recommendations. This group will also consider ways to enlist input from the community in the coming weeks.

Administrative measures have, then, been extensive on this campus; more will be forthcoming. As you know, the original plan to discuss the results of the HEDS Sexual Assault/Campus Climate Survey envisioned three brown-bag discussions, the last of which was to be held today — Wednesday, November 11 — at 4:15. I have asked for this brown bag to be canceled in light of recent events; while there has been no formal public presentation of the data, at this point we have moved beyond that part of the discussion. We need to find a way to reset the conversation. In the near future, I hope to see opportunities for genuine engagement on this subject that touches us all, perhaps involving professors as facilitators alongside administrative staff members.

In the meantime, I ask for your continued help in confronting the terrible reality of sexual violence. We are a strong community; working together, we have the power to make change.


Jill Harsin
Professor of History
Interim President

Message to the Campus

By Contributing Writer on November 6, 2015

Dear students, faculty, and staff of Colgate University,

Last evening in the Chapel, we saw the human faces behind the numbers of the recently released HEDS Survey Overview. We were moved as many survivors found the courage to speak about their experiences and their pain. Their testimonies underscored the need for our community to join together to address sexual violence on this campus.

The ongoing fight against sexual violence must be a shared project of the entire community, involving individuals as well as appropriate shared governance groups that include students, faculty, and staff. In the coming weeks, we aim to assemble a broad-based coalition to develop a thoughtful and comprehensive approach to this serious problem. Changing campus culture involves all of us; it should not be a burden that survivors carry alone.

To learn more about the university’s existing initiatives and policies, please visit our Sexual Assault Prevention Initiatives and EGP Panel Members pages, recently restructured to provide easier access to our resources.

Finally, we strongly urge anyone who has experienced or has knowledge of sexual violence to use one of the means of reporting listed on the Sexual Violence, Support, and Resources page.

We care deeply about these issues and are committed to continuing the dialogue in the coming weeks.


Jill Harsin, Interim President
Suzy Nelson, Vice President and Dean of the College

Safety Advisory – Date Rape Drugs

By Contributing Writer on November 3, 2015

Dear Colgate Community,

I write to alert you that the university has recently received reports of a number of sexual assaults that suggest the involvement of so-called “date rape drugs” in social and residential spaces on campus.

The use of drugs to facilitate sexual assault has been widely reported across the country. Date rape drugs such as Rohypnol, GHB, and Ketamine can easily be slipped into an unsuspecting person’s drink. Rapid and severe intoxication follows, along with dramatically reduced inhibitions and memory loss. In this condition, anyone can be extremely vulnerable to sexual assault. Symptoms of date rape drug ingestion include dizziness and/or nausea, memory loss, breathing or motion difficulties, and behaving disproportionately intoxicated relative to the amount of alcohol consumed.

If you believe that you or another person have been the victim of a date rape drugging, I strongly encourage you to immediately contact Campus Safety (228-7333), any member of the Equity Grievance Panel, or local law enforcement. You may seek confidential support at the Counseling Center (228-7385) or Student Health Services (228-7750) or the Office of the Chaplains (228-7682).

If you have any information regarding the use of date rape drugs in our community in any fashion, I ask you to come forward. The university will promptly and thoroughly investigate all circumstances where the information received enables us to do so.

Colgate University unequivocally condemns sexual assault in all circumstances and expects all members of our community to live by our code of conduct.


Suzy Nelson
Vice President and Dean of the College

Sexual climate survey results

By Contributing Writer on November 2, 2015

Dear members of the Colgate community,

I write to ask for your help in confronting the problem of sexual violence in our community. Along with 53 other colleges and universities, in spring of 2015, Colgate participated in the Higher Education Data Sharing (HEDS) Consortium Sexual Assault Campus Climate Survey. The survey’s deeply troubling findings tell us about the frequency of unwanted sexual contact and sexual assault on our campus and students’ perceptions of Colgate’s response to sexual violence.

My goal is to face this challenge head on and to redouble our efforts in supporting survivors and creating a healthier campus climate. We will be transparent in sharing these data and have already reviewed the findings with a number of campus groups, including the president’s staff, the Sexual Climate Advisory Committee (SCAC), the Dean’s Advisory Council, Student Government Association and other student leaders, the Student Affairs Board, and at today’s faculty meeting.

You can read an overview of the key findings, as well as the entire frequency report provided by HEDS.

Although a single survey cannot tell us how to change the campus culture, it can provide some context for discussion from which to measure our progress. Campus discussions, to allow all members of the community a place to provide insights and to ask questions, have been scheduled for this Thursday, 11/5, at 11:30 a.m. in the Center for Women’s Studies, Thursday, 11/5 at 4:15 p.m., and Wednesday, 11/11 at 4:15 p.m. in the chapel basement.

Colgate has supported a number of Sexual Assault Prevention Initiatives to confront these problems, but there is still much more to be done. I ask for your help. These are not just numbers we are sharing, but the voices of our students, and they must be heard. Their experiences will influence positive change at Colgate. We all need to commit to personally confronting sexual violence on campus.

Suzy Nelson
Vice President and Dean of the College

Helpful links:

Sexual climate initiatives

By Contributing Writer on September 14, 2015

Dear members of the Colgate Community,

We are determined to end sexual violence at Colgate, and we ask all students, staff, and faculty to join us in this commitment.

Those who experience sexual assault have access to confidential and anonymous reporting systems, caring support, and assistance from trained Equity Grievance Panel (EGP) members and counseling center staff. The shaw wellness institute will appoint an EGP advocate/educator who will also serve as a confidential resource for all members of our community.

This year, all new students completed AlcoholEdu and Haven, an online sexual assault prevention program. As in past years, the Bystander Intervention program will be offered to all first-year students. All new students and their families received letters, reinforcing our commitment to ending sexual assault and noting the link between high-risk drinking and unwanted sexual contact and assault. As a reminder, Colgate has medical amnesty and good samaritan policies, and students are expected to help students at risk.

The Sexual Climate Advisory Committee (SCAC) continues to coordinate all efforts related to improving Colgate’s sexual climate. During the 2014–2015 academic year, there were 84 positive sexuality and EGP-related programs with a total of 6,274 participants. We will continue to reinforce signature programs such as Yes Means Yes, Bystander Intervention training (attended by nearly 1,000 students last year), and This is not a play about sex (seen by 32 percent of campus last fall).

We want to thank the countless community members who have championed these efforts. Best wishes for a happy and safe 2015–2016 academic year.


Jill Harsin
Interim President

Suzy Nelson
Dean of the College

Fall 2014 message to students regarding sexual assault

By Contributing Writer on August 28, 2014

Dear students:

The sights and sounds of a new fall semester — families unloading a semester’s worth of a student’s belongings and the cheerful voices of friends becoming reacquainted — make this my favorite time of year. I write to welcome you to campus and to share some ways in which we can work together to promote a positive and safe community.

Please take a minute to review the Colgate University Student Handbook and the updates to the Equity Grievance Process for resolving complaints of sexual violence, bias, and harassment. As the media has widely reported, a 2007 study by the National Criminal Justice Reference Service found that nearly 20 percent of college-age women will be victims of attempted or actual sexual assault as will about six percent of undergraduate men. National data tell us that first-year students are more vulnerable to sexual violence, especially during the first six weeks of school. Given the growing national conversation about sexual assault on college campuses, and Colgate’s own commitment to fostering a safe and healthy environment, we will be focusing a great deal of attention on the issue this year.

Colgate will not tolerate sexual assault or harassment, and I ask that you join me and many others to eliminate such incidents. One of our most successful efforts to date is our active bystander intervention program, led by the Shaw Wellness Institute. More than 140 students were trained last year, and they already have made a difference by noticing and calling attention to potential threats and perhaps even preventing instances of violence. If you have not been trained, I urge you to do so. For more information on ways in which you can become involved, please see sexual climate initiatives.

As you are no doubt aware, excessive drinking has been linked to negative consequences such as unwanted sexual contact and assault. While New York State prohibits the use of alcoholic beverages by those who are under 21 years of age, we understand that students will make their own choices when it comes to drinking. Many students who choose to drink do so in moderation. The majority of students also take protective measures to increase their safety and wellbeing, such as eating before drinking alcohol, or alternating alcoholic beverages with water.

I want to remind you that Colgate has a Medical Amnesty policy (Student Handbook, p.122) and that we expect students will get help for students who have had too much to drink. Further, those who come forward with a complaint about sexual violence will not be charged with an alcohol violation, and Colgate has an individual and organizational Good Samaritan Exemption (Student Handbook, p.123), which encourages members of student organizations to do the right thing when someone needs help.

In promoting a healthier campus, we will continue to focus our efforts on student education, safer choices, and clear outcomes for violations. More information about Colgate’s Points System may be found here. I’m happy to speak with students during my open office hours on most Thursdays at 3 p.m. Thank you in advance for your role in creating a positive and caring Colgate community.

Suzy Nelson
Dean of the College