I am extremely saddened over the recent reports of alleged criminal sexual conduct involving two former Eastern Michigan University students (see yesterday's University statement for additional details). Whether the former students charged in both recent cases are found innocent or guilty of these crimes will be for the legal system to decide. One thing, though, is certain: there is no place at Eastern Michigan University for conduct like that alleged in these complaints. I send my deepest thoughts of support to all survivors of sexual assault. The University takes these matters extremely seriously. We have no higher priority than to create and maintain a safe, thriving, and welcoming community for our students. We stand by survivors and vow to do everything in our power to support them. That includes listening to, and believing their stories, investigating all Title IX cases thoroughly and fairly, providing continued access to counseling and other services, and, when warranted, assisting in external police investigations through the legal system.
The most important request I can make of our community right now is to step forward when you become aware of an incident of sexual assault. Please, let us know what happened. These cases can only be investigated when they are brought to light and reported to our Title IX or Public Safety offices. Whether an incident happened last night, last month or three years ago does not matter. The EMU Police Department and the University's Title IX Office have been expertly trained to work with survivors of sexual assault. They are kind, caring, and dedicated people, and I'm extremely proud of the work they do every day. We encourage students who experience assault, whether current or past, to please come forward and work with us. We can help.
If you have any information about an instance of sexual assault or misconduct related to our campus, please reach out to:
Survivors of sexual assault also are encouraged to contact Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), which is dedicated to addressing the mental health needs of Eastern Michigan University students. CAPS provides free, confidential counseling.
This is an issue that requires all of us to speak loudly. Only by doing so can we ensure that our campus remains the safe, welcoming environment we strive to provide every day. I ask that you continue to work on behalf of survivors. Look out for them. Support them. Encourage them to tell their stories when they are comfortable doing so.
James Smith, Ph.D.