Sexual Assault Awareness

A letter from Vice President for Student Services Shannon Ellis

4/29/2014 - By: Shannon Ellis
Vice President for Student Services Shannon Ellis encourages the campus community to join the national discussion on sexual assault awareness.

Dear University of Nevada, Reno Students and Colleagues,

In January, the White House established a task force to address sexual assault on college campuses and today it issued its report on steps to prevent sexual assault on college campuses. Such attention is positive as it brings this serious topic to the forefront for ongoing review and discussion both at the national level and here on campus. All of us, as members of the campus community, contribute to the creation of a safe, respectful and welcoming campus environment. Joining this national discussion can help foster such an environment.

The University takes the topic of sexual assault very seriously. In addition to following the federal laws aimed at making university campuses safer, the University regularly evaluates the many policies, programs and services we have in place to protect and support our students, faculty and staff. While our actions are aligned with national best practices, we continually strive to assess and improve.

To address the issue of campus sexual assault, the University uses a three-pronged approach: education, support and investigation/adjudication.

Our efforts in education are campus-wide and coordinated. Workshops and seminars cover a wide range of prevention topics such as self-defense, bystander interventions, mandatory employee reporting and how to report an assault. An emphasis is also placed on alcohol and drug education. These workshops are offered throughout campus, the residence halls, fraternities and sororities, athletics, student organizations, new student orientation, new employee orientation and faculty, staff and student employee annual training programs.

While I wish I could tell you our University is immune to acts of sexual assault, we know that in spite of our efforts, they do happen. We strongly encourage the reporting of these incidents. Support for survivors of sexual assault is paramount, and the University has programs and services in place to help. The University's Counseling Services, which is confidential, is staffed by highly-skilled mental-health professionals with specialized training and experience in working with student survivors of sexual assault. We also recognize those accused may also benefit from programs and services if they are a student. Additional areas of the University such as the Office of the Associate Dean of Students, University Police Services and the Student Health Center provide support to students with class changes, temporary restraining orders and ongoing medical care.

We believe community awareness is important. When the matter presents a danger or threat for others, these instances are communicated in compliance with the "timely warning" provision of The Jeanne Clery Act and Title IX to promote the safety of everyone on campus. Students, faculty and staff are encouraged to sign up for campus emergency alerts.

Sexual assault investigations are coordinated among University Police, Office of Student Conduct and the Office of Equal Opportunity and Title IX. Students, faculty and staff can pursue use of both the legal system and University processes.

Nationally, sexual assault is a crime that is underreported and often occurs by someone the survivor knows. If you have been sexually assaulted, I encourage you to report the crime to University Police, the Office of Equal Opportunity and Title IX or the Office of Student Conduct. Even if you choose not to do so we are here to support survivors and have support mechanisms in place for you. For more information, please visit Counseling Services' Sexual Assault Procedures website.

We encourage all members of the campus community to take care of themselves and each other. Together, we can continue to create a remarkable culture of student success and contribute to a safe learning and work environment that allows us all to focus our energy on education and enrichment.

If you have questions or suggestions for improvement, please contact me at elliss@unr.edu.

Shannon Ellis
Vice President for Student Services
University of Nevada, Reno


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