Dear Students, Families, and Santa Clara University Community,
In recent days, we have shared with students and families very troubling reports from both the president of Associated Student Government and several third parties about the possible use of predatory drugs and sexual assault incidents near or on our campus.
As both acting president and a parent of three, I remain deeply concerned and alarmed at the possibility of any sexual violence against or by our students—which we unequivocally condemn and treat with utmost seriousness.
Our campus is built on Jesuit values of care for the entire person—mind, body, and spirit—and of care for each person as part of God’s creation. Any instances of our students being violated—or perpetrating violence—are deeply damaging to both students involved and to our collective sense of safety, trust, and care. This is simply not who we are as a University. I summarize below how we are and will be working in the near term and over the coming year to continue our work to safeguard our students’ safety.
The issue of sexual assault is, tragically, a national problem not unique to Santa Clara. We have invested tremendous time, efforts and resources in programming to educate, prevent, and empower our students against sexual violence. We are proud of our students who spoke up swiftly and definitively against such violations, and we will continue to support in all ways possible a safe and violence-free living and learning environment for all.
Our Equal Opportunity and Title IX office has shared all information it has received with the Santa Clara Police Department, with whom we have a close working relationship, and has also reached out to the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s office.
Members of the EO/Title IX office are also in contact with the Associated Student Government president, ASG Senator at Large for Greek Life Relations and ASG safety chair, to learn more about the allegations the students are hearing. We want to ensure that any student who was--or suspects they were--drugged or sexually assaulted knows about the resources available to them on campus; the avenues for support in dealing with what happened; and the avenues for reporting so that the University and police may investigate. Please note: in order to investigate, both the University and police need students who were subject to either drugging or sexual assault to report what happened to them.
As noted in a previous email, reports can be made to Santa Clara Police Department, the Equal Opportunity and Title IX office, Campus Safety Services, or to the Wellness Center. There is also the option for anonymous reports through EthicsPoint. We will follow up on all cases reported to the University.
Although the email from Associated Student Government President Abby Alvarez noted estimates by Greek life leaders of as many as 30 drugging or assault incidents, thus far (as was shared in our Friday email) Santa Clara University has received only two third-party (i.e., not firsthand) reports about incidents of possible drugging since Sept. 19; and one report of possible drugging and sexual assault which the person declined to report formally. Unfortunately, lacking sufficient information, these reports have not led to actionable cases. We continue to look into the issue and urge those who have knowledge to come forward.
As a community we need to care for each other: If you see something, say something. Some students who have relevant information may be hesitant to speak up out of concern that they themselves, or the person on whose behalf they are calling, might be charged with policy violations. Such students should be aware of SCU’s Medical Amnesty/Good Samaritan policy contained in the Student Handbook, which spells out protections against discipline in such cases.
Resources Available Whether You Report or Not
We know that sometimes survivors of drugging or sexual assault are afraid or otherwise resistant to report. Although we believe reporting is important—including calling 911 if a crime has been committed— as a University we must respect survivors’ privacy and their personal decisions whether to report or not to the university and law enforcement. Those who suspect or know they were drugged or assaulted should seek out resources both on- and off-campus for support, including confidential assistance. A list of such resources can be found at the Title IX website. Students may seek confidential support and advocacy from Bree Van Ness, Assistant Director for Student Survivor Advocacy and Campus Support Services in the Wellness Center. Bree is a critical resource and can be contacted at email@example.com. Counseling & Psychological Services (CAPS) can provide confidential counseling, (408) 554-4501.
Anyone who has experienced suspected drugging with predatory drugs or sexual assault is encouraged —but not required— to seek medical attention as soon as possible after the assault. In Santa Clara County, Sexual Assault Reponse Team exams are performed at the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center in San Jose. Receiving a medical exam and treatment is not dependent upon speaking with the police or filing a police report.
Santa Clara offers numerous mandatory training and student-outreach programs that address the topics of sexual assault, consent, coersion, stalking and sexual harassment. They include:
Mandatory Sexual Assault Prevention course. All incoming undergraduate students are required to complete the Everfi online module that is part of the Being a Bronco series. It covers topics including healthy relationship behaviors; recognizing and responding to sexual assault and harassment; values and relationships; sexual harassment, assault, and stalking and intervention techniques; consent and coercion; the role of alcohol; reporting incidences of violence; and responding to survivors.
Mandatory One Love Relationship and Consent Camino Course. Part of the Being a Bronco series, participants learn to recognize both positive and negative aspects of relationships, helping to foster healthy connections while challenging negative interactions. Required for both the classes of 2024 and 2025, the course will be offered between Oct. 18 and Dec. 3.
Peer Programming. The student-based sexual assault prevention, education, and bystander awareness organization Violence Prevention Educators (VPEs) operates out of SCU’s Wellness Center. This peer-based organization offers programming throughout the year to spread awareness and education about sexual assault at SCU and empowering the student body to be proactive bystanders to protect fellow Broncos. VPEs also aim to be a resource for those who are survivors of sexual assault or friends of survivors.
Greek Life Summits. Although Greek life organizations are not affiliated with the University, since winter 2019, quarterly summits have been co-sponsored by ASG, the leaders of Greek organizations and the Wellness Center on topics including sexual assault, mental health and alcohol and substance abuse. The 2021 Sexual Assault Awareness Summit was held Sept. 20-23. More than 1,200 students from 13 Greek organizations learned about issues of consent, substance use, online harassment, bystander intervention and survivor advocacy and support.
The work of keeping our students safe from sexual misconduct and assault requires the contribution of our entire community, and is a top priority of our University. We are committed to doing the work required to ensure any potential survivor is supported and can access resources, and that our campus continues to be educated and proactive in preventing and reporting behavior that so clearly harms our students and violates our community values.
Lisa A. Kloppenberg