Dear Members of the USF Community,
I hope those of you who were able to take some time off over fall break enjoyed rest and relaxation, and I hope all of you are looking forward to productive and gratifying work during the remaining weeks in this semester.
I am writing to update the university community on the work and conversations that have taken place since the publication of the Sports Illustrated article and recent events on campus, including the demands posted by the group “It’s on USFCA” and the sexual assault speak-out and demonstration on Oct. 7.
I have been working with staff colleagues from Student Life, Title IX, and Athletics to respond to and address many of the specifics raised by the community.
Thanks are due to students, faculty, and staff for speaking out and for the ongoing advocacy that will help ensure USF is doing all we can to prevent and address sexual violence. We must do better to support survivors and to prevent sexual violence from occurring in our community.
I am deeply sorry that members of our community — including current students and alums — have been harmed and traumatized by sexual misconduct and assault. I am committed to working with student advocates, staff professionals, faculty leaders, and administrators from across our campuses to ensure that our policies and protocols are clear, accessible, and survivor-centered and trauma-informed. This is an ongoing conversation that requires every member of our community. I am committed to improve upon all of the work done in the past to prevent sexual violence, to promote respect, and to bring restorative justice when our community standards are violated.
Please read this detailed account coordinated by Jess Varga, Title IX coordinator, and Trina Garry, deputy Title IX coordinator. In it, you will read the university response to the demands posted by “It’s On USFCA.” The university will build on the steps that were put in place last summer and in January after the publication of the report of the independent investigators. In addition, the recommendations of the Rebuilding Trust and Community group can be found on myUSF. Our work continues to center programming, training, resources, and new practices to build a culture of respect at USF. These efforts are led at a university level by the Sexual Violence Prevention and Education Committee and the new REPS (Resources, Education, Prevention & Support) initiative.
I also expect to be able to announce soon how USF will participate in delivering messages to the U.S. Department of Education about the need for new policies and guidelines on preventing sexual assault on campuses and supporting survivors.
With leadership from the President’s Cabinet and in partnership with the entire community, we will continue to address sexual assault at USF, support survivors and all those affected, and do everything we can to prevent sexual violence from happening in the first place.
Paul J. Fitzgerald, S.J.