Virginia Tech has launched the forum series, “End Sexual Violence,” which seeks to engage members of the university community to address underlying cultural issues in society that allows sexual violence to propagate from one generation to the next.

“We are committed to doing everything possible to end sexual violence on our campuses and in our communities; nothing less is acceptable,” said Virginia Tech President Tim Sands in announcing this initiative. “While we have advanced public awareness, safety, and services for survivors, Virginia Tech and its communities are struggling to effectively address deeper cultural issues. Though no single initiative will yield a comprehensive solution, I believe we have the capacity, the will, and the responsibility to lead a sustainable cultural transformation.”

Ennis McCrery, director of student conduct; Kathryn Polidoro, director of Title IX compliance; and Christine Smith, co-director of the Women’s Center, will chair the program committee tasked to develop meaningful campus programs that address the issue of sexual violence.

The forum series will feature focused topical discussions on aspects of university culture, policies, systems, and services. Its goal is to organize engaging, inclusive, and informative events that will provide a venue for collecting the best ideas from the Virginia Tech community aimed at ending sexual violence.

Last month, the program committee held several “listening sessions” that asked participants what cultural factors at Virginia Tech contribute to an environment that tolerates sexual violence, what can be done to address these cultural factors, what are ways that the university can educate students and other members of the community to prevent sexual violence, and what barriers exist for students who seek help.

In addition, an anonymous campus climate survey of sexual assault and sexual misconduct was conducted, seeking insight on students’ experiences of gender-based violence while at Virginia Tech.

Additional listening sessions will be held early in the spring semester. To request a listening session specifically for your organization, contact the planning committee online.

The program committee intends to hold two open forums during the spring term.

Members of the program committee include:

  • Sabrina Ahmad, undergraduate student, student Title IX Advisory Board member, and co-organizer of last spring’s walk out.
  • Gary Bennett, assistant director of sport psychology, Cook Counseling Center and Athletics.
  • Caroline English, undergraduate student, student Title IX Advisory board member and Student Government Association General Assembly member.
  • Amy Epperley, director of Hokie Wellness.
  • Kevin Foust, associate vice president for safety and security.
  • Ellington Graves, assistant provost for inclusion and diversity, Office of Inclusion and Diversity.
  • Bryan Hanson, graduate student ombudsperson,
  • Kristina Hartman, associate university legal counsel.
  • Leigh-Anne Krometis, associate professor of biological systems engineering.
  • Reese Ramos, university ombudsperson.
  • Todd Schenk, assistant professor of urban affairs and planning and Faculty Senate representative.
  • Anthony Scott, associate dean of students.
  • Tamarah Smith, Staff Senate representative.
  • Anthony Wilson, chief of police, Town of Blacksburg.

As dates, locations, and event specifics are scheduled, information will be shared through Virginia Tech Daily.