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Message from the Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity

October 15, 2018

Dear Graduate Students,

I am forwarding this important message on behalf of the Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity.

Sincerely,

Andrew G. Campbell
Dean of the Graduate School

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Dear Graduate Students,

Recently, it has come to our attention that there is a communication circulating in the context of unionization that describes a graduate student’s account of experiences following a sexual assault as relayed through a graduate peer. The account is deeply troubling and we will reach out to the peer who shared the story to offer support. We would never want a community member to have to manage through such a difficult process in isolation. It is our hope and expectation that every member of our community has access to the resources available to them if they ever experience gender discrimination, sexual harassment or assault, or any bias-related incident related to a protected class (we have included resources at the bottom of this letter). Additionally, we hope that if you are aware of a peer who is having a difficult time related to the above, you should also feel equipped to connect them to resources as soon as possible.

As a campus community, we have shown a collective commitment to supporting those who have experienced sexual harassment or violence. From the Sexual Assault Task Force convened in 2014, to the evolution of the Title IX and Gender Equity Office, students, faculty and staff have played a critical role in helping Brown tackle one of the most difficult and insidious problems being wrestled with across higher education, as well as across the nation. We have worked to cultivate a climate of respect and established processes to respond when incidents take place.

At the same time, we recognize there remains work to be done at Brown and on campuses across the country, unionized and non-unionized alike. To ensure that we are able to do this work at Brown and address the myriad concerns that arise from it, over the last two years the University has invested significantly in our office -- the Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity (OIED), which includes the Title IX office. Today, we have staff, programs, policies and procedures that advance our mission and provide greater support to our community. Currently, between the OIED and Title IX office, five of our eight experienced professional staff members are knowledgeable of and working on some aspect of issues related to discrimination and harassment (inclusive of Title IX).

Whether or not to unionize is an important decision for graduate students to consider. Regardless of the outcome, Brown is committed to providing resources to help our community grapple with pressing societal issues. It is critical that we clarify that our work under Title IX is not the subject of collective bargaining. Additionally, it is important that students not conflate unionization with our policies and procedures that address harassment and discrimination. Our efforts are guided by our commitment to inclusion and compliance with the law.

It is our hope that if you are aware of circumstances related to Title IX and/or discrimination and harassment that warrant our immediate attention, including any perceived lack of available resources, you would feel comfortable bringing those issues to the attention of the Vice President of Institutional Equity and Diversity Shontay Delalue or the new Assistant Vice President for Equity and Diversity Erin DeBobes by e-mailing [email protected] so that we may work to address problems as they arise. Another, more general campus resource available to graduate students who have concerns arising from or affecting their work and studies at Brown is the University Ombuds Office

Brown Sexual Harassment and Assault Resources

Sincerely,

Shontay Delalue, PhD
Vice President of Institutional Equity and Diversity

Rene Davis
Title IX Program Officer