Communication of Complex, Sensitive Matters: A Message from President Stanley

October 10, 2016 - 12:41pm

Dear Members of the Campus Community,

Reporting sexual assaults is a complex issue that I, and others responsible for the safety and protection of our students and employees, take very seriously. I feel it will be helpful to provide our campus community with a broader perspective and understanding of the matter.

Whenever University Police receives any reports, particularly those pertaining to sexual assault, our immediate priorities are twofold: attention to supporting the victim(s) and also working with University Police and partnering police agencies to assess whether or not the members of our campus community are in any danger. The well being of the individual(s) who made the report and the entire SUNY Oswego family are always in our minds as we contemplate if, how and when we communicate pertinent, sensitive information to the campus.

Acting on a recently reported case that was listed on the University Police website blotter, University Police indicated, after speaking with the individual who made the report and assessing the situation, there was no threat or imminent danger to the campus community. Therefore, no email was sent to the campus regarding this reported incident. At this point, it became critically important to protect the rights of those involved, provide support and resources, and preserve the integrity of a potential investigation.

As I shared with students at the Sept. 29 Town Hall meeting, while we understand the strong desire for our students to be made aware of what’s happening around them at all times, it is also important to balance the person(s) involved with the campus community's need to know. None of us would benefit if we created an environment where students, faculty and staff, who are in need of protection and support, are afraid to come forward in fear of being the topic of the day or, worse, the headline in tomorrow’s news.

Being transparent and communicating with our campus community is very important and is never pushed aside in favor of protecting the reputation of SUNY Oswego. Such a commitment to being open and inclusive is why we are steadfast in publically disclosing, on SUNY Oswego’s University Police website, all reported criminal activity. In doing so, we are meeting the requirements of the Jeanne Clery Act but, more importantly, our actions directly support our desire for a culture on this campus where we encourage our students and employees to come forward and report any and all instances of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking.

Please know that this conversation will continue. I welcome your opinions and suggestions and will continue to use a variety of formats for discussion, such as Town Hall gatherings and meetings with Student Association leadership. You can count on me and my administration for assistance and continued information on this very important topic. In fact, I have asked our Title IX coordinator, chief of University Police and chief communication officer to work together and explore how other college campuses are communicating about this serious, yet sensitive subject matter. I look forward to sharing their suggestions on expanded communications with the campus community in the near future. 

Sincerely,

Deborah F. Stanley

President