The Daily published an article Friday, Oct. 18 entitled, “Sexual assault task force to change misconduct policies at Tufts.” Since the article did not adequately represent the Task Force and contained a number of inaccuracies, we are writing to provide accurate facts.
The Sexual Misconduct Task Force was initiated by President Monaco in response to an open letter signed by a number of concerned students at the end of the 2012-2013 academic year. In this unprecedented and exciting effort, President Monaco is chairing this task force and is bringing together members of our community from all three Tufts campuses to address the serious problem of sexual misconduct. The focus of the President’s Task Force is to discuss ways in which Tufts can continue to be a national leader in preventing and responding to sexual misconduct matters and to keep every student safe. Subcommittees have been formed to address changes needed to our policies and procedures; prevention and education programs and support resources for students. In the spirit of continuous improvement and to prevent sexual misconduct of any kind, task force members are joining forces on this initiative. That should be heralded.
We were dismayed to read that there was information relayed in the Daily’s article that was incorrect. The article stated that there were 63 reported sexual assaults in the 2012-2013 academic year. That is not accurate. The Office of Equal Opportunity received 63 allegations of sexual misconduct across all three campuses, including students studying abroad last year. The number and the allegations are based on the definition of sexual misconduct at Tufts, which includes sexual assault, sexual harassment, sexual exploitation, stalking, relationship violence, sex/gender discrimination, retaliation and any other gender-based misconduct. This is a major and important factual inaccuracy that needs to be corrected. There are real people behind these numbers, and it is important not to misstate the facts surrounding sexual misconduct. Further, the comment in the article that “Tufts is considered one of the top schools for repeat offenders” is blatantly incorrect. There is no factual basis for this statement.
The facts matter to our community, and we hope that the Daily will continue to make concerted efforts to report accurate facts, particularly when it is engaged in the unique opportunity to showcase a significant university initiative. Through the Sexual Misconduct Prevention Task Force, we (students, faculty and staff) are joining together and demonstrating our commitment, enthusiasm and collaboration to ensure that we are leaders in the prevention and education of sexual misconduct. Those are facts worth reporting.
Jill A. Zellmer, MSW
Director of the Office of Equal Opportunity and Title IX Coordinator