Related: Civil & Human Rights, Education, Political Issues, Politics, Social Issues, Social Justice Issues, Women, Women's Leadership

Promoting Respect and Freedom from Sexual Violence


I have sent this message to the Trinity Community on email, but it’s so important that I want to reinforce the message by posting it on my Trinity blog:

As we start the new academic year, I call upon all members of the Trinity community to work together to help ensure that Trinity is a model for respecting the dignity of all people, maintaining a campus free from violence of any sort, particularly sexual misconduct and sexual assault, and harassment in any form. As a university with long and deep moral roots in the Catholic faith tradition and Gospel teachings on social justice, we have a moral mission to uphold the dignity of human life. As a college founded in reaction to historic discrimination against women, and still emphasizing women’s education and empowerment, we are especially concerned about upholding the rights of women. Today, we welcome men in many programs and all faith traditions into the Trinity community, and we call upon everyone to express affirmative support for the fundamental imperative to respect the dignity of each person here.

From that perspective, I am writing this message as part of legally required annual notification to the campus community about our policies and procedures on sexual assault and harassment. Trinity complies with all laws on student safety and protection, including the Campus Safety Act known as the Clery Act, Title IX in all of its parts including those governing sexual harassment and violence, the Violence Against Women Act, and other federal and local laws on this topic.

We should not need the law to tell us what is right, but the law is necessary because in too many places in our society, including on too many college campuses, violence and degradation run rampant, particularly violence against women. Trinity must be a strong moral example to counter these conditions.

Each campus constituency has both rights and responsibilities to safeguard Trinity’s highest values for respect and safety for all:

For All Students in All Programs:

You have a right to be safe, free from fear of harassment or any kind of violence when you are on Trinity’s campus or participating in any program that Trinity sponsors. Trinity has policies and procedures that protect your rights. If you are the victim of sexual harassment or violence in any form, you can get help on our campus.

  • Immediate Assistance: You may seek assistance with your dean or other staff member, and particularly the individuals listed below. Please note that the federal law requires reporting of criminal cases to these individuals may not be able to keep your case completely confidential, but they will do everything possible to protect your privacy and your rights:
  • Security and Police Response: Trinity Department of Public Safety (202-884-9111) and Deputy Chief Kelvin Contee (

You may find these policy statements on our website in these places:

Students also have the obligation to refrain from any acts of harassment or violence, and to act to prevent harassment or violence against other students through effective interventions and reporting. Trinity’s Honor System requires the active intervention of bystanders if you see someone committing an action that violates our community standards of trust, respect, honor and integrity. If you see something, say something — this is not only about outside crime but possible crime or offenses within our community.

You are also responsible for your guests. Visitors to our campus are governed by the same rules as everyone else. If your guest threatens or commits any act of violence against anyone here, that person will be banned and you may incur disciplinary action as well.

Trinity has ZERO TOLERANCE for any act of bullying, harassment or violence committed by one student against another, or against any other person. In addition to the policy statements listed above, students are on notice that violence of any form is prohibited by all of our student codes of conduct, as well as the Honor System. An act of violence, or the threat to commit violence, will result in your immediate separation from campus and likely dismissal from Trinity entirely.

Students must also note that threats, bullying, harassment or other misconduct on social media will incur the same penalties as if the acts occurred in real time on campus.

For All Faculty and Staff

You also have the right to be safe, treated with respect and free from the fear of harassment or violence on Trinity’s campus or in the discharge of your duties on Trinity’s behalf anywhere. Trinity’s policies protect you in the same way that they protect students. While the federal law in Title IX is specifically intended to protect students against crimes committed by other students or campus personnel, the spirit of that law is incorporated into our Harassment Policy and general rules protecting all employees from harm.

You do have special obligations under Title IX and the Clery Act. All campus personnel who are in a position to hear about possible sexual harassment or assaults against students have a specific legal obligation to report those cases, and we have an institutional obligation to ensure that you get training on these issues.

Please DO NOT try to handle any reports of sexual assault on your own. Please note that you may NOT promise confidentiality to a student. You should report the case immediately to one of the individuals listed above.

Given the very small community that we have at Trinity, all full-time faculty, executive and administrative personnel are “campus security authorities” for purposes of reporting and training under the law.

The training is offered on a regular basis through the Trinity Institute programs for personnel continuing education. Ms. Tracey Prince, Director of Human Resources, oversees the training program and provides frequent announcements about the sessions.

ALL VENDORS and VENDOR PERSONNEL have the same obligations under Trinity’s policies as all other personnel.

Sustaining a Culture of Respect and Safety

Campus sexual assault is an issue that is in the news quite a lot these days. Unfortunately, on too many campuses, the culture of disrespect and violence has festered. Whether the causes are too much alcohol, unregulated fraternities, big time sports and the entitlement that some perpetrators of crimes seem to feel, the fact remains that even one case is too many.

Here at Trinity, we work hard to maintain a climate of safety and culture of respect. While we are a “dry” campus, have no fraternities or sororities or other kinds of clubs that foster problems at other schools, we cannot be lulled into thinking that something bad could not happen here. Too often, we do see cases where anger turns to bullying, and sometimes fighting. We also sometimes encounter guests, particularly in the residence halls, who act in ways that are antithetical to our values and environment. We must be pro-active about observing and intervening in every instance in which someone needs help to step back from the potential of doing harm to another person and herself.

We will provide more programming through the academic year, and I welcome your input on strategies that Trinity can adopt to sustain and even improve our campus climate for respect, dignity and safety for all members of our community, visitors and guests.

Thank you for your full attention and complete cooperation with this message.


See my blog on the Huffington Post:  “College Presidents Must Lead on Sexual Assault”

Follow me on Twitter @TrinityPrez

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Patricia A. McGuire, President, Trinity, 125 Michigan Ave. NE, Washington, DC 20017
Phone: 202.884.9050   Email: