Our Community Coming Together - Letter from the President
Dear Members of the Saint Mary’s College Community,
As I reflect on the events of the week, I am extremely proud of the way we have come together as a community to find the most effective ways to respond to the troubling reports of sexual assault on our campus. Our Lasallian and Christian values call us to respect the dignity of each person. Any kind of violence or assault to a person not only disrespects that person but also undermines our common mission as a College community.
Yesterday two Gaels, Jenny Cruz and Angie Torres, with the support of Gillian Cutshaw and Sharon Sobotta from the Women’s Resource Center, staged a rally “Uniting Our Voices, Breaking the Silence.” It was an extraordinary gathering of Saint Mary’s women and men, faculty members and students, Christian Brothers and parents, staff members and administrators, all committed to ending the silence and stopping relationship violence on our campus and beyond. I firmly support their sobering and inspiring message to the Saint Mary’s community — we all must come together to support one another and take responsibility for this problem. In the words of Professor Reid Davis, “An injury to one is an injury to all.” My sincere thanks to Jenny, Angie, Gillian, Sharon, Reid and all who participated.
I want to reiterate: relationship violence and sexual assault will not be tolerated at Saint Mary’s. We are committed to maintaining a campus environment that is safe and free of violence, intimidation and harassment. Our policies, educational programs and safety practices are structured to achieve these objectives.
Some important aspects of these efforts include the following:
• The College works cooperatively with the local police to immediately investigate all reports of sexual assault and has resources available to students 24/7. Resources for students include: • The campus Sexual Assault Hotline is available 24/7. Our staff and faculty serve as advocates to any student who has been a target of abuse to provide resources and support. • The Women’s Resource Center, which engages students in programs that discuss relationships and relationship violence on college campuses. • Our student handbook articulates a policy that prohibits sexual assault, harassment and misconduct and includes a dating bill of rights.
As several speakers at yesterday’s rally enunciated, the Saint Mary’s campus continues to be safe. The incidents that occurred were between individuals who knew one another. As troubling as these reports of sexual assault are, they show that our system of response and support is functioning effectively.
This is both a personal and a community issue. I encourage all members of our community to take advantage of the resources in place and to support and respect one another.
In St. La Salle,
Brother Ronald Gallagher, FSC President