To the Williams community,
In recent weeks I’ve been asked whether possible changes in the government’s approach to Title IX will affect our work at Williams. Initially these questions focused on sexual assault prevention. In response to recent national news, people are now also asking about our commitment to inclusion of transgender students, faculty and staff.
Uncertainty can be worrying. So I want to reassure you on both points. We’re going to do everything we can to guarantee the wellbeing of everyone in our community. That’s because our efforts have always been and will continue to be motivated by respect for each other as people, not by the fear of government sanction.
With that in mind I want to start by reaffirming unambiguously that our trans students, faculty and staff are deeply valued members of the Williams community. It’s our job to make sure that everyone feels welcome here and enjoys the full benefits of that membership. That includes, but is hardly limited to, the absolute right of trans members of our community to use bathrooms and other facilities that accord with their identity.
And to all those concerned about the future of Title IX and sexual assault prevention, I assure you that we’re going to continue and intensify those efforts, not retreat from them.
Williams students, staff, faculty and alumni have made important progress in that regard. Much of their work was described in the spring 2015 issue of Williams Magazine, “Standing Strong Together.” Numerous resources and information are also available on our Title IX website, as well as through the Dean of the College and the Davis Center. If you’ve experienced assault or bias, or want help for any reason, please reach out in the way that feels right to you.
Our work cannot and will not stop. So I also want to make sure we consistently communicate about where we’re succeeding and where we’re running into challenges. With that in mind you’ll be receiving a steady stream of reports and updates starting this semester. They’ll include news about a grant to support prevention strategies around campus social events as well as Dean Sandstrom’s annual report on outcomes from the previous year’s sexual misconduct processes.
My goal in this message isn’t to pretend we’ve become perfectly inclusive or solved the problem of sexual violence—we haven’t. There’s always more to be done. And it needs to be done in an equitable, accessible and transparent manner. I’m profoundly grateful to Toya Camacho, Meg Bossong ’05, the Davis Center, RASAN, Men for Consent, our alumni advocates and everyone else who’s been involved in the work so far. If you’re not engaged in those efforts and would like to do more, please talk to Toya, Meg or our student leaders about how you can help. It’s going to take all of us to support our trans friends and colleagues and prevent sexual assault and violence at Williams.
As you know, policies often shift from one Washington administration to the next. Fortunately, we don’t have to passively wait for direction. Instead, we turn to our mission and values to guide us in times of uncertainty and change. This is an important moment to heed our conscience and to show the deep care and concern for each other that defines Williams.