Letter from President Gilbert about handling sexual assaults on campus

Dear (Students):

I just read (the) article about sexual assault in the Parthenon and wanted to make a statement. I did not recall saying that I did not care to comment. Quite the contrary, I do want to comment.

Sexual assault is a very serious problem on college campuses. I want to go on record as saying that I personally abhor the action of sexual assault or domestic/partner violence. It is my goal to have a zero tolerance for sexual assault at Marshall.

I have instructed the staff in the Office of Student Conduct within Student Affairs to do a thorough review and revision of our conduct policies and procedures so that we will protect the rights of our students and be fair in making decisions about possible sanctions. The revisions are about to be finalized, and I want to thank all of those who have participated in it.

The university investigation of possible sexual assault and rape is a very serious process. The university investigation is separate from the criminal investigation in cases of rape and sexual assault. Many times information about what has happened cannot be released because it is critical to the investigation that the information remain confidential until the time of possible criminal prosecution. The lack of information from the university about the proceedings of the university investigation should not be interpreted as hesitation on the part of the university to properly follow our processes or to not actively attempt to achieve justice. Also, the process is sometimes slow and it cannot be hurried or we will end up with problems in the process that will prevent us from having the proper end result.

I have spoken with Vice President Cedric Gathings and Women’s Center Director Leah Tolliver about bringing additional training to raise awareness about sexual assault. We are considering several campus initiatives such as the Green Dot program to train individuals and raise campus awareness about the seriousness of sexual assault. I want all of our students to know about consent and what constitutes proper consent when sex enters into a relationship. I also want bystanders to be aware of signs when someone is being coerced against their will into a possible sexual encounter so that they can appropriately intervene.

I will continue to speak out against violence and improper behavior such as sexual assault. I will do everything I can to minimize the occurrence of sexual assault on Marshall’s campus.




Jerry Gilbert