Rowan University officials encourage sexual assault victims to come forward in light of Larry Nassar sentencing

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Rowan University President Dr. Ali Houshmand issued a statement to students Friday afternoon addressing the recently sentenced former Michigan State physician Larry Nassar.

The emailed statement, entitled “It’s everyone’s responsibility,” states that victims of sexual abuse should never be discouraged from speaking out about sexual harassment or misconduct they have experienced in or out of a professional setting.

“We are aware of the recent tragedy at Michigan State University involving the reprehensible actions of Larry Nassar, a now-convicted felon who will spend the rest of his life in prison for his atrocities. However, this is not the first story of its kind. In fact, we have seen in the media too many cases of repeated sexual harassment and other disrespectful actions in a variety of fields, including education, entertainment, news and industry,” the email said.

“As a community, we must work together to ensure that stories like these stop and that we prevent any more people from becoming victims,” it continued.

The email concluded by encouraging anyone who has experienced any for discrimination it to the University.

“If you are a victim or witness of harassment or discrimination at Rowan, whether in the classroom, during an extracurricular activity, while working, at an internship or in any setting affiliated with our University, please report it so we may take action to redress it,” it said.

The letter was reportedly proposed by members of the university’s Wellness Center to make students and faculty aware of the resources they can find it if they need to report any misconduct.

“We at the wellness center felt it was important to address this because this is a public health issue,” said Associate Director of Counseling Amy Hoch. “And this is not just a student issue, we may have faculty and staff who have experienced abuse. If that’s happening they can access help through Public Safety or Title IX office.”

The Wellness Center has 24-hour services for students who have experienced abuse and are a confidential resource if students do not want to directly report to the police, Hoch said.

If people want to talk through what their options are or want someone sit with them when they go to the Title IX office and make a report we will help them,” Hoch said. “We are all bystanders and the community is responsible for what happened.”

You can read the university president’s full statement here, or at the end of this page.

The following is the complete text of President Houshmand’s emailed statement on behalf of the university community:

It’s everyone’s responsibility

Dear University Community,

We are aware of the recent tragedy at Michigan State University involving the reprehensible actions of Larry Nassar, a now-convicted felon who will spend the rest of his life in prison for his atrocities. However, this is not the first story of its kind. In fact, we have seen in the media too many cases of repeated sexual harassment and other disrespectful actions in a variety of fields, including education, entertainment, news and industry. While each story is slightly different in its setting and perpetrator, these stories all are linked by common themes involving multiple victims of inappropriate conduct reluctant to voice their stories due to fear of retaliation or other negative consequences.

As a community, we must work together to ensure that stories like these stop and that we prevent any more people from becoming victims. 

It is the responsibility of us all to not only report acts of harassment we see but also to create environments where respectful language and actions are the norm and where victims of harassment feel supported and empowered to speak out. 

If you are a victim or witness of harassment or discrimination at Rowan, whether in the classroom, during an extracurricular activity, while working, at an internship or in any setting affiliated with our University, please report it so we may take action to redress it. Reports may be made to the Office of Equity and Diversity or as outlined in Rowan’s policy prohibiting sexual harassment and misconduct against students. Retaliation for making a report is prohibited. 

If you are an employee of Rowan and you become aware of an act of sexual harassment or misconduct involving a student, you are required to report it to the Office of Equity and Diversity. It is all of our jobs to create an environment free from harassment where our entire community feels safe.  

For more information, please read Rowan’s policy prohibiting harassment and discrimination. If you have questions relating to this issue or wish to report a complaint of harassment or discrimination, please contact Bindu Jayne, assistant vice president of Equity and Diversity, at jayneb@rowan.edu or 856-256-5830.

Very truly yours,

Dr. Ali A. Houshmand

President

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