A Community-Driven Response to Preventing Sexual Misconduct

Dear Members of the University of Pittsburgh Community:

This morning, the Association of American Universities (AAU) released findings from a spring 2019 survey designed and administered by the independent research firm Westat. The survey—officially called the AAU campus climate survey on sexual assault and misconduct—was hosted by 33 institutions across the country. 

The results for the University of Pittsburgh, which represent the responses of 15% of our student population, are documented in a 217-page report that is now publicly available.

These findings cannot accurately describe the lasting impact that victims of sexual misconduct may experience. They also fail to describe the debilitating chain reaction that one single incident can set into motion—changing an untold number of lives along the way.   

Instead, what the results do confirm is that our essential and substantial efforts to date have been insufficient for the challenge we’re facing.   

The frustrating truth is that no one community, school or scholar can lay claim to a solution, and the sheer scale of this issue—which extends well beyond campus communities and into society at large—necessitates a bigger and broader response than we have enacted to date. 

Consequently, I have decided to move beyond the standard administrative response and augment it with a community-driven one.

To advance this effort, the University will supply the necessities: resources, talent and institutional support. And we will call on our deep bench of subject matter experts, innovators, researchers and student leaders to propose, develop, modify and scale evidence-based prevention-focused strategies that work.  

Our initial steps to underpin this community-driven response will include:      

  • Launching a dedicated education and prevention office to centralize available resources and programming, strengthen data collection and track outcomes.
  • Establishing an education and prevention task force that will leverage experts from within the Pitt community to help evaluate and advance promising solutions.
  • Creating dedicated funding streams to energize grassroots solutions. These will include:
    • A special Pitt Seed funding cycle devoted to financing innovative solutions for preventing sexual misconduct. This rapid-fire funding cycle will be open to faculty and staff, with grants slated to disburse in the new year.
    • Grants administered by our respective student government boards and earmarked for student groups focused on promoting a positive culture change and preventing sexual misconduct on campus.
    • Grants, selected via a peer review process, to fund research on preventing sexual misconduct. Priority proposals will have the potential to positively impact efforts at Pitt and on other university campuses.
  • Hosting listening sessions to answer questions and gather real-time feedback on proposed solutions and new opportunities.

Each of us has a role to play in preventing sexual misconduct at Pitt, which is why we have created a dedicated webpage for sharing information and ideas, asking questions and exploring ways to get involved.

Our goal is—and always will be—to eradicate sexual assault and misconduct on campus and ensure that everyone feels safe, respected and supported as members of our university community. There is simply no other acceptable option—and no other vision for Pitt worth working toward.            

Respectfully,

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.