Letter From the Dean: 2019 AAU Student Survey on Sexual Assault and Misconduct

The following letter was sent to Harvard Extension School degree candidates on Oct. 17, 2019. 

Earlier this week, President Bacow shared the results to this year’s Harvard 2019 AAU Student Survey on Sexual Assault and Misconduct, conducted by the University in partnership with the Association of American Universities (AAU). Students across Harvard’s Schools participated in this survey along with students from 32 additional institutions of higher education.

The results of this survey show that sexual harassment and assault at Harvard, and on campuses across the country, remains a distressing problem. The data show that, since a similar AAU survey was conducted in 2015, the prevalence of sexual violence at Harvard, and nationwide, has remained flat. This is unacceptable. We must do better.

More fundamentally, we need to change the culture that allows some members of the community to believe it is okay to assault or harass others, and we need to change the culture that prevents those who experience or witness such violations from reporting them. None of us can single-handedly change our culture, yet all of us have role to play in effecting the needed change whether you are learning on campus or at a distance.

That simple concept is a cornerstone of our Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging Strategic Plan, which calls out specific near- and long-term steps we can take to make the HES community a welcoming and supportive place where all can achieve to their full potential. One of my duties as Dean is to ensure we have created a community that is safe, welcoming and where we all feel comfortable. If you’d like to be a part of the dialogue about how we all can best be involved in this task, the University is hosting an on-campus Harvard-wide Town Hall discussing the results on Thursday, October 17 at 6 p.m. in Science Center Hall C. I encourage you to attend.  

At Harvard Extension we are committed to preventing and addressing harassment and assault of any kind. Harvard Extension has extensive resources at this link that will make it easy for you to report concerns, events, or dangers in our community. If you need someone to talk to, we encourage students to contact our Title IX Office and Coordinator, Mark Addison at 617-998-9612 or mark_addison@fas.harvard.edu or Shirley R. Greene, Associate Dean of Students, at shirleygreene@fas.harvard.edu.

Harvard remains committed to further improving upon our existing resources and policies and procedures with regards to sexual violence. I’m hopeful that, with this year’s survey results as our guide, we can move closer to the ultimate goal of creating a culture where all students have the chance to thrive. But we need your help. Working together, we can make Harvard a better place.

Best,

Huntington D. Lambert
Dean, Division of Continuing Education and University Extension

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