Message on Sexual Assault and Misconduct
October 8, 2015
Dear Faculty, Students, and Staff,
President Gutmann and Provost Price recently released the results of a campus-climate survey on sexual assault and misconduct undertaken by the Association of American Universities (AAU) at Penn and 26 other institutions. The survey, which included students in the Perelman School of Medicine, as well as undergraduates and members of other graduate and professional schools, revealed alarming levels of sexual misconduct and assault. I encourage you to review the full results, which can be found at http://www.upenn.edu/ir/aau-campus-climate-survey.html.
I write today to convey my personal deep dismay about these findings and to reiterate that maintaining a safe learning environment, free of threats and violence, is an unwavering priority for our academic medical center. As an institution of higher learning focused on graduate and medical education, we are deeply committed to the principles of professionalism and the health and safety of our community, everywhere and at all times. We expect everyone in our academic medical center — faculty, students, and staff — to not only embrace these values but also to uphold them through their actions. Unfortunately, the survey findings describe a very different and disturbing environment that cannot be ignored and must be corrected.
I have discussed the findings with Department Chairs and Center Directors and will be reaching out to leaders across Penn Medicine to redouble our efforts in this domain. As a first step, the Office of Faculty Affairs is partnering with the University’s Office of General Counsel, the Office of the Sexual Violence Investigative Officer, and Penn Violence Prevention to provide open sessions in which all members of our community can focus on this issue and discuss solutions.
We can and will work on strategies for better communicating how individuals affected by harassment or assault can reach out for help and support, knowing with confidence that their complaints will be heard and addressed in a professional manner. While we work to enhance community awareness about the mechanisms of support, a list of University offices to which reports can be made can be accessed here. However, we must do more than provide venues for contact and engagement. As members of an institution dedicated to human health and well-being, we need to develop new tools to further align our culture with our values and prevent these events from occurring. Remedies must be tailored to the needs and particular concerns of our diverse constituencies -- faculty, residents, postdoctoral trainees, staff, and students. Maintaining a safe and professional environment is everyone’s responsibility. Accordingly, our chairs and other administrative and faculty leaders will be reaching out to ask for your assistance in formulating action plans to address this problem.
J. Larry Jameson, MD, PhD