May 19th, 2011
Letter to the Wake Forest community
Dear members of the Wake Forest community,
This morning I watched the NBC Today Show segment about the problem of sexual assault on college campuses. The segment included an interview with a former Wake Forest student and illustrated the complexities of these matters. I am troubled by the prevalence of sexual misconduct in our society today. Regarding the described incident, however, I feel strongly that the University’s response, as well as our character, has been misrepresented.
In the face of allegations made about the University in the news media, we remain committed to abiding by Federal law, known as FERPA. As our earlier statements explained, FERPA prohibits the University from providing information about the incident discussed on the Today Show, or any other parts of a student’s educational record. However, I can affirm Wake Forest believes its educational mission begins with the health and safety of our students.
When Wake Forest students established PREPARE (Policy group on Rape Education, Prevention And Response), it was among the first programs of its kind in the country. Today, the program is comprised of 20 trained student advocates who work directly with victims who report sexual assaults, as well as approximately 60 trained female and male students, who deliver educational and awareness programs for the campus. First-year students are required to attend educational programs that provide guidance on how to both prevent sexual assault and seek support for themselves or friends.
Additionally, Wake Forest has a full-time, professionally trained victim’s advocate, who is available to students around-the-clock during the academic year. The victim’s advocate informs students of their rights, including their right to file a report with appropriate law enforcement authorities at any time. Ultimately, however, the decision of whether to file a police report, and when to do so, is a personal decision that must be made independently by the individual student.
This highlights only a few of the many resources Wake Forest offers students. I am grateful to our Student Life professionals who have dedicated themselves to serving our community.
The matters surrounding sexual misconduct deserve our continued energy and commitment. We will keep working with faculty, staff and students to enhance our campus culture. I know you will join me in supporting these efforts.