Spelman College President Reports on Efforts to Combat Sexual Assault

Last May, allegations that a Spelman College student was gang raped by four students from nearby Morehouse College were published on an anonymous Twitter account. The allegations became front-page news across the country and prompted both colleges to examine their policies concerning sexual assault. Spelman College for women and Morehouse College for men, are both historically Black educational institutions.

campbellAt the beginning of the current academic year, Spelman College President Mary Schmidt Campbell announced measures that the campus has taken to address the issue of sexual assault. The president stated that “the most significant change relates to reporting protocols for sexual violence; students are now encouraged to report incidences of sexual violence to the Office of the Dean of Students, as opposed to the Office of Public Safety, to better facilitate access to the wide array of support services they may want or need. This shift enhances our survivor-centered response, ensuring students receive immediate and comprehensive support. This support will include discussing all of their options with them, including counseling or medical treatment and filing a complaint with the appropriate campus administrative body or local law enforcement.”

President Campbell also noted that Spelman is enhancing its use of technological and digital and social media tools to raise awareness and share vital information essential for prevention and response. A new tool for online reporting for sexual violence is being developed and will be available for use mid-September. Also the presidents of Spelman College, Morehouse College and other members of the Atlanta University Center will undertake a joint initiative that will develop a community response to sexual violence on campus.

President Campbell stated that “my first priority as Spelman’s president is to continue ensuring that Spelman and the Atlanta University Center offer a safe, supportive environment for all students. Sexual violence of any kind is destructive to our students, our academic environment and our sense of social justice. Our goal at Spelman is to be a model for Title IX leadership.”

Dr. Campbell was named president of Spelman College in 2015. Earlier she was dean of the Tisch School of the Arts and University Professor of art and public policy at New York University. President Campbell is a graduate of Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania, where she majored in English literature. She holds a master’s degree in art history and a Ph.D. in humanities from Syracuse University.

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