Dear members of the Berklee community,
We had a powerful three-hour meeting Monday, November 13 about stopping sexual assault and harassment in the Berklee College and Conservatory communities. I want to extend my thanks to the student organizers for bringing us together for this important conversation and for the obvious preparation you had done for the event. I was deeply moved by the outpouring of stories, suggestions, ideas, questions, and demands.
Again, I apologize on behalf of the college to those who have experienced any such misconduct while at Berklee. I admire your courage in coming forward and am grateful for your activism. I unequivocally condemn abusive or harassing behavior at Berklee.
What we witnessed yesterday is a shared commitment to preventing sexual abuse and harassment on our campus—whether perpetrated by faculty, staff, or students. We have a lot of work to do to be the school we need to be, and we are not going to lose focus.
We will be communicating extensively in the near future on plans and decisions. Right now, I would like to share the commitments we made at the meeting and some of the key next steps. Please don’t see this as a comprehensive response. It will take some time to fully synthesize all that was shared yesterday.
1) We will create a working group to focus on preventing sexual assault and harassment at Berklee. It will include representation from students from both the College and Conservatory, and we will consider how to select or elect student members. Larry Simpson, provost, and Betsy Newman, senior vice president for student enrollment and engagement, and I will cochair the group. Topics that will be considered include:
- a review of best practices for sanctioning guidelines;
- the development of more training for faculty and staff on a variety of topics, including case-studies of micro-aggressions to be used in these trainings and discussions; and
- discussions of the recently completed report on our student campus climate survey.
If you are interested in being involved in this work, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
2) We have added and will add more resources to the Center for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, as well as the Personal Counseling Center to receive any complaints or concerns about sexual assault, harassment, and other violations of our policies. This includes the hiring of additional staff who are licensed social workers, counselors, or psychologists who have experience working as survivor advocates. While we will do this as rapidly as possible, it will take some time to fully staff up with trained, talented individuals. We are posting a job description for the recently created role of Chief Equity Officer and Title IX Coordinator, reporting to the Vice President for Student Affairs, Diversity, and Inclusion, who will be responsible for providing functional leadership for deputies in the equity system and for leading the ongoing development of the equity system.
3) We will continue to emphasize that bystanders can report issues and concerns, not just survivors. We are going to improve the way we communicate about our resources and training available to students.
4) We will work with our faculty union to strengthen the language prohibiting harassment and abuse. We will also initiate a series of discussions, dialogues, and trainings to help insure that we create a better climate for all our students.
5) We will launch a system of public reporting of the number of investigations and outcomes of these investigations in our community. We will also ask the working group to help us determine policy with respect to publicly identifying perpetrators who are terminated or expelled based on best practices in higher education.
6) If a faculty or staff member has been terminated because of sexual abuse or harassment we will commit to sharing this information with any prospective employers when inquiries are made of our Office of Human Resources at Berklee.
7) As suggested at the meeting, we are fully committed to increasing the gender and ethnic diversity of our community and have clear plans to do so.
8) We will convene other gatherings to continue the dialogue.
In addition, at the meeting, we committed to developing a timeframe for these processes that can be shared widely with the community before the end of the semester.
As Provost Larry Simpson pointed out, these issues are deep and will require us to challenge ourselves to examine almost everything we do. It is not easy work, but there is nothing more important than making Berklee a place that is safe and nurturing for every student.
Roger H. Brown