Dear Members of the USF Community,
We write to emphasize and update the message Fr. Fitzgerald shared with you Wednesday.
There are very serious allegations being raised and discussed by members of our community, including alumni, related to sexual misconduct and the culture of the USF men’s soccer team and the university response to those allegations.
First, USF stands in adamant, unwavering opposition to oppression and all forms of sexual misconduct, sexual assault, and sexual harassment. To members of the USF community who are survivors of sexual assault or misconduct while on our campus: we are deeply sorry if at any point you were not heard or believed. No matter when sexual misconduct took place in our community — last week or decades ago — you will be heard and supported if you decide to come forward, either to our Title IX office or our anonymous whistleblower hotline. We know and respect the courage it takes to revisit painful experiences.
Second, we are actively investigating the case involving a former student athlete as well as the disturbing allegations of a predatory culture that abused women in our community. We are hiring at least two outside female investigators to supplement the work of our Title IX office in this matter. The scope of this investigation will include an examination of the overall culture related to the soccer program, and all individual complaints that are being brought forward, as well as a full review of the established processes and procedures — both within Athletics and university-wide — for responding to such reports. It will also provide resources to our Title IX office so that our existing expertise is enhanced and holds the administration accountable to implement more and better actions related to reporting and communications. The investigators will make their report public and it will be published on the university’s website, without compromising any confidential information.
While this investigation is proceeding, we are also accepting the recommendations of the Title IX office and the Office of Student Conduct to immediately implement the following:
- Any student, including a student athlete, who is found responsible for sexual misconduct or sexual assault will now be immediately removed from university-sponsored, non-academic activities and intercollegiate athletics.
- The university will reallocate a position and hire a full-time deputy Title IX officer within Student Life who will be responsible for issues related to the Department of Athletics, including the culture of teams and implementing advanced mandatory training for all athletic coaches, staff, and students.
- The university will reallocate a position to hire a full-time student advocacy professional who will serve as a confidential resource for students. The advocate will help connect students with support services, assist with seeking accommodations, and help students understand formal reporting options and support students through that process as needed.
- We will hold discussion sessions on the impact these recent reports and allegations have had on our community. We look forward to sharing the details of these community events.
These immediate next steps do not represent the full extent of our actions in this matter. We are reviewing the information regarding sexual assault and misconduct available to all students on our website and in trainings and orientations. With federal Title IX guidelines once again changing, we want to be sure that students have current and concrete information available and accessible to them. Beyond complying with the current regulations, we commit to be advocates for addressing the major shortcomings of these federal regulations. Further, we are planning a university-wide, comprehensive audit of our non-academic conduct practices and policies, and we will publish the results of that work on our website in the fall semester. We will implement necessary actions based on the findings.
You often hear us say that the health, safety, and well-being of all members of the USF community is our highest priority. Those are not empty words. We take them very seriously. These recent events, allegations, and reports have led us to evaluate how we can work to regain your trust and confidence; how we can ensure that predatory culture does not exist in any part of USF; and how we can better support all our students.
We are hopeful that the work ahead by our administration promotes healing and averts further pain.
Chairman, University of San Francisco Board of Trustees
Paul J. Fitzgerald, S.J.
President, University of San Francisco