The following letter to the editor was published in the August 25, 2014, edition of The Daily Campus. Lori S. White is Vice President for Student Affairs.
Lori S. White
Vice President for Student Affairs
August 26, 2014
By Lori S. White
SMU Vice President for Student Affairs
As the academic year begins for new and returning students, I’m reminded how thankful I am to be part of our SMU community. We’re here to support one another as we all work toward our goals. I also am reminded of the serious issues we must address to support a healthy learning environment.
This week in your campus email, all students, faculty and staff members are receiving information about Living Responsibly at SMU, including a booklet posted online at smu.edu/LiveResponsibly. All undergraduates also will receive a printed copy of the booklet by mail to keep during their time at SMU. The booklet addresses two important and serious health and safety issues at SMU and at universities across the country: sexual misconduct and substance abuse.
What does it mean to Live Responsibly? It is a commitment to respect SMU values and every member of our community. It means treating yourself and others with care.
One important way to care for yourself and others is to be informed. Please take some time this week to read the Live Responsibly booklet. You’ll find statistics showing that alcohol and substance use can carry serious risks for college students, including academic problems, injuries, sexual assault and death. You’ll learn that many cases of sexual assault on college campuses don’t involve attacks by strangers, but by other students who are acquaintances. You’ll review what it means to give consent to engage in sexual activity.
You’ll also find information about SMU and community resources that are helping students with these issues. These include:
- SMU Police (911 or 214-768-3333): Students are urged to call police 24/7 for any situation involving health and safety, including when someone may be in danger due to alcohol or drugs and in cases of sexual assault. Students may call 214-768-2TIP to report anonymously.
- SMU Title IX Coordinator (214-768-3601): In addition to being a crime punishable by imprisonment, sexual assault is a violation of the federal law, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. SMU’s Title IX Coordinator can help students pursue an SMU internal grievance process by filing a complaint under our Title IX (Sexual Misconduct) policy.
- Confidential counselors: SMU’s Office of Psychological Services for Women and Gender Issues (214-768-4795) and Counseling and Psychiatric Services (214-768-2277) are available 24/7. The Chaplain’s Office (214-768-4502) also offers confidential counseling.
- The Dallas Area Rape Crisis Center (972-641-7273): This community resource offers a 24-hour hotline, confidential counseling and advocates.
- Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (214-345-6203): The SANE program at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas provides medical care and a sexual assault exam that can aid in prosecution.
- SMU Center for Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention (214-768-4021): The center provides confidential alcohol and drug counseling, assessments, education and support for students in recovery.
- Other resources that are here to support students include the Office of the Dean of Student Life (214-768-4564), the Women & LGBT Center (214-768-4792) and Residence Life and Student Housing (214-768-2407).
In addition to being informed, you can Live Responsibly by being involved. Discuss these issues. Contact the resources listed to learn about training and education programs, and to join forces with others who are taking action. Students last year adopted an SMU Values Statement and launched the “Not On My Campus” campaign. I urge you to build upon their important work.
Students also can be involved by intervening when someone is in need of help, if it is safe to do so, or by calling 911. The Center for Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention offers Training for Intervention Procedures (TIPS) to help students intervene when others are abusing alcohol or drugs. In addition, in Wellness classes this fall, SMU is launching a bystander intervention program called CARE, developed by the Department of Psychology and Health Center. The program is one of several new initiatives recommended by SMU’s Task Force on Sexual Misconduct Policies and Procedures that has been implemented during the past year. You can learn more at smu.edu/LiveResponsibly.
By being informed and involved, all of us working together are demonstrating that our community is founded on respect and integrity. We are making clear that sexual misconduct is not tolerated at SMU, and that alcohol and substance abuse is not part of our culture. We know how to support anyone who needs help, including ourselves. We can and will Live Responsibly.