A message to students from Byron Hughes, dean of students
November 17, 2020
It is an all-too-familiar refrain to say that our world has been challenged and upended. Beyond the pandemic, I know that many community members continue to experience significant feelings of marginalization and isolation. One area in particular that has come into focus in the last several months is sexual harassment and sexual violence.
Guided by our unwavering Principles of Community, Virginia Tech is working toward a community that is free from gender-based discrimination, harassment, and violence. We commit to taking all reports seriously, to treating all individuals with compassion and respect, and to holding those who perpetrate violence and harassment accountable. I believe it is possible to achieve this ideal – and I believe that sexual violence and sexual harassment erode our aspirations for a thriving student experience.
During the summer, the U.S. Department of Education formally announced changes to how colleges and universities should pursue Title IX investigations for students, faculty, and staff. In preparation for this, several working groups comprised of students, faculty, and staff met throughout the summer to address modifications to policy and practice as required by federal guidelines. These changes were approved by the Board of Visitors in August 2020 and are reflected in Virginia Tech’s Title IX Reporting and Grievance Procedures.
We continue to take seriously reports of sexual harassment and sexual violence, and we acknowledge that the responsibility for maintaining a culture of care and support rests on all of us. Specifically, the many departments and units that have direct involvement in intervention and response have continued to excel in their commitment to facilitating a healthy and safe environment that is conducive for living and learning. These departments and units will continue to implement best practices and are responsive to feedback that allows for optimal care and support, within the limitations of federal guidelines.
We continue to promote the Stop Abuse at Virginia Tech webpage as the central place for the university community to seek resources and assistance around gender-based violence and harassment. The latest updates from the Office for Equity and Accessibility, which houses the Title IX Coordinator, the Virginia Tech Police Department, and more are incorporated on an ongoing basis. We will continue to work with the campus community to ensure the site is meeting your needs, and we welcome your feedback on how we can make it more helpful.
In addition to visiting the Stop Abuse web page, anyone who needs assistance related to sexual harassment and violence can always contact the university’s Title IX Coordinator for support and reporting. Because we know that reaching out is a difficult and personal choice, we hope you will view the Dean of Students Office as a place for you to start when you are in need. Our team of mentors and advocates can point you in the right direction, be a sounding board, and assist with personal, social, and academic challenges.
Dean of Students