Panel Receives Recommendations to Improve University Culture and Climate

A special panel established by University of Virginia President Teresa A. Sullivan to address sexual assault and interpersonal violence has received more than 80 recommendations from three working groups exploring the issue.

Commissioned by Sullivan in December, the Ad Hoc Group on University Climate and Culture includes students, faculty, staff, a dean, parents, alumni and members of U.Va.’s Board of Visitors. The panel was formed to explore the policies, practices, organizational structure and resources that are necessary to provide an outstanding education for U.Va. students while ensuring their safety and well-being.

Sullivan then formed three working groups (focusing on prevention, response and culture, respectively) in January to provide recommendations to the Ad Hoc Group. As part of their efforts, each working group convened town hall meetings to collect ideas from the community in advance of developing recommendations. 

A progress report and the three working group reports are available online.

The reports of each working group reflect the work of more than 70 students, faculty, staff, parents, alumni and board members. 

“The working groups’ reports are an essential component within the University’s comprehensive approach to address Title IX issues, as well as more expansive issues of our climate and culture at the University,” Sullivan said. “Many of the recommendations reinforced initiatives already underway at the University, and other recommendations provided new ideas for our ongoing efforts to improve our community, prevent sexual violence and respond to incidents of interpersonal violence when they occur.”

Among the working group recommendations:

  • Education, outreach and training for students are being evaluated and revised. The University’s alcohol education programming model is being evaluated to determine opportunities to enhance existing programs, resources and services.
  • Alcohol-free programming is being developed in partnership with the University Programs Council and other student organizations. These programs will be implemented on the weekends during the first six weeks of the fall semester.
  • Student Affairs has partnered with EverFi, a nationally recognized leader in the development of online training modules, to develop a U.Va.-specific training program that will focus on sexual violence. Completion of the training will be mandatory for all students in the coming academic year.
  • U.Va.’s partnership with Harvard Law School and the Futures Without Violence organization continues to progress. A team of experts is designing a comprehensive curriculum that will address sexual assault prevention and response on college and university campuses.
  • The Office of the Dean of Students continues to lead the three-year implementation of the Green Dot program, with a doctoral student having been hired to support bystander education efforts.
  • The fraternity and sorority community continues to engage with University leaders to discuss the role Greek letter organizations play in U.Va.’s culture.
  • A Clery Act Coordinator has been hired and will begin work this summer. This newly created position will play a central leadership role and will ensure the University’s ongoing compliance with federal regulations and reporting.
  • A new Title IX coordinator position has been created. The coordinator will play a central leadership role in coordinating the University’s ongoing efforts around institutional training and will be responsible for ensuring appropriate integration and connection across the University.
  • A Title IX website will be launched this summer to provide a central resource for Title IX educational materials.
  • Funding has been secured for the 2015-16 fiscal year to hire additional counselors in U.Va.’s Counseling and Psychological Services, as well as two additional staff members dedicated to programmatic support at the Maxine Platzer Lynn Women’s Center.
  • The existing Memorandum of Understanding between the University and Charlottesville’s Sexual Assault Response Agency, known as SARA, is being examined to identify additional opportunities for partnership and collaboration.
  • The University continues to advance “Total Advising,” an initiative combining high-quality academic and career advising and alumni mentorship.

“I would like to thank the Ad Hoc and Working Group members and the community for the hundreds of hours of time spent discussing these important issues,” Sullivan said. 

Sullivan will also soon name an administrative team that will oversee the implementation process, review and approve metrics, and hear progress reports on implementation status and the efficacy of metrics. Sullivan will reconvene the Ad Hoc Group in six months to seek their counsel and update them on the progress of the various initiatives.

Media Contact

Anthony P. de Bruyn

Office of University Communications