Advancing Our Community-Driven Response to Preventing Sexual Misconduct

Dear Members of the University Community: 

This fall, I launched a community-driven response to preventing sexual misconduct at the University of Pittsburgh and, in doing so, set several initiatives in motion.

We’ve worked quickly to advance these efforts over the last three months and now have some early milestones to share.

As I wrote in my original message in October, the University has invested in:  

Forming a dedicated education and prevention office to centralize available resources and programming, strengthen data collection and track outcomes.

Earlier this week, I approved a proposal to formally establish a centralized sexual misconduct prevention and education office within our Office of Diversity and Inclusion. This new office will focus on four initial tasks:

  1. Partnering with groups across campus to deliver clear, consistent education that positions prevention as essential in all areas of campus life.
  2. Supporting peer educators.
  3. Utilizing best practice primary prevention programs, such as SETpoint, to deliver mandatory education programs as well as ongoing primary prevention programs to students, faculty and staff. 
  4. Collaborating with the Chancellor’s Advisory Council on the Prevention of Sexual Misconduct to assess our new and ongoing education efforts. 

Establishing an education and prevention task force that will leverage experts from within the Pitt community to help evaluate and advance promising solutions.

Twelve individuals have accepted my invitation to join the Chancellor’s Advisory Council on the Prevention of Sexual Misconduct. This group—which is slated to meet for the first time in February—will work to leverage experts from within the University community to help evaluate and advance evidence-based solutions to reduce acts of sexual misconduct and sexual violence on campus. I have also asked the council members for their guidance on how we can meaningfully assess our progress toward this goal.

Liz Miller, who directs the Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine within Pitt’s School of Medicine, will lead the council. Katie Pope, associate vice chancellor for civil rights and Title IX, will serve as the group’s staff liaison.     

The remaining members of the council are:

  • Faculty member Deborah Brake | School of Law
  • Faculty member Betty Braxter | School of Nursing
  • Faculty member Jessica Burke | Graduate School of Public Health
  • Staff member Jay Darr | University Counseling Center
  • Faculty member Rachel Gartner | School of Social Work
  • Undergraduate student Kirsten Lipsky | Sexual Assault Facilitation and Education (SAFE) peer educator, Students Engaging in Conversations about Consent and Sexuality member
  • Staff member Michele Montag | Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences
  • Graduate student Yemi Olaiya | School of Law
  • Undergraduate student Mary Roche | SAFE peer educator, resident assistant
  • Staff member Penny Semaia | Department of Athletics

Creating dedicated funding streams to energize grassroots solutions. These will include:   

  • A special Pitt Seed funding cycle.

    We awarded a combined $250,000 to seven Pitt Seed proposals from faculty and staff. The projects advanced in this special funding cycle are: 
  1. Title IX/Green Dot Initiative for Pitt-Bradford and Pitt-Titusville
    Staff member Christy Clark | Pitt-Bradford
     
  2. Encouraging Faculty, Staff, and Student Participation in Primary Prevention
    Staff member Sheila Confer | Pitt-Greensburg
     
  3. Translating TGQN Campus Climate Findings into Practice
    Faculty member Rachel Gartner | School of Social Work
     
  4. Culturally Sensitive Sexual Misconduct Prevention Programming for International Graduate and Professional Students
    Faculty member Holger Hoock | Dietrich School
     
  5. LGBTQIA+ Empowerment Self-Defense
    Staff member K. Briar Somerville | Office of Diversity and Inclusion
     
  6. Exploring Black Undergraduate College Women’s Experiences with Sexual Misconduct: Knowledge of Resources, Barriers to Access, and Strategies to Improve Engagement and Outcomes
    Staff member Lynissa Stokes | School of Medicine
     
  7. We Hear You, Let’s Talk About It
    Staff member Katie Stumpp | Department of Athletics
  • Grants administered by our respective student government boards.

The Division of Student Affairs has announced that it will be accepting funding proposals on behalf of our student government boards from Jan. 27 to March 31. During this time frame, student organizations can submit their ideas on promoting positive culture change and preventing sexual misconduct on campus.

The office will host two information sessions: Wednesday, Jan. 22, from 4 to 5 p.m.; and Monday, Jan. 27, from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. Both sessions will take place in William Pitt Union 630.

  • Faculty research grants selected via a peer review process.   

The Office of the Senior Vice Chancellor for Research and the Office of the Provost have greenlit two Pitt Momentum Fund proposals for research on preventing sexual misconduct. These proposals, which will receive a combined $54,000 in grants, are:

  1. Safely Staging Sex and Violence for the Academic Performer
    Faculty member Karen Gilmer | Dietrich School
     
  2. Using Environmental Scans to Guide Campus Sexual Misconduct Prevention
    Faculty member Liz Miller | School of Medicine

The University will announce all other Pitt Momentum Fund awardees on Feb. 24.

In addition to these efforts, our Office of Diversity and Inclusion hosted three listening sessions with members of our university community to gather ideas, feedback and field questions about the AAU campus climate survey results released in October.  

To be clear: These efforts are just beginning. The data and discoveries that we generate along the way will purposefully shape our community-driven response, and I look forward to seeing what our collective efforts can accomplish in the months and years ahead.  

Sincerely,

Patrick Gallagher

If you have been impacted by this issue and need support, we have resources available and ready.
Students: Contact the University Counseling Center or 412-648-7930.  
Faculty and staff: Contact Life Solutions or 1-866-647-3432.