[log in to unmask]" alt=""> Office of the Vice President

September 20, 2012

TO:         Members of the UVM Community


FROM:   Tom Gustafson, Vice President for University Relations and Campus Life

               Annie Stevens, Associate Vice President for University Relations and Campus Life


RE:          Update on Status of Sigma Phi Epsilon and Recommendations from the

                 Gender-based Sexual Violence Task Force, Commission on Social Change



With the concurrence of President Tom Sullivan, we are providing an update on the status of Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity and the recommendations formulated last spring semester by the Gender-based and Sexual Violence Task Force of the Commission on Social Change.


Sigma Phi Epsilon.  The University has concluded its investigation of the circumstances related to an entirely inappropriate question that was added to an individual copy of a questionnaire.  After an exhaustive and thorough review of all available information, the conclusion of this  investigation is that Sig Ep as an organization was not found responsible for the placement of that question on the document and did not violate any University policy in that regard.  In the course of gathering information, however, additional facts arose about an unrelated matter that may result in action against Sig Ep as an organization.  Those findings are currently under review in appropriate University processes and should be resolved later this semester.  Until those processes are complete, Sig Ep remains on interim suspension as a recognized University organization.  As well, the governing body of the fraternity has leased the fraternity house to Champlain College for a four year period.  Consequently, Sig Ep is not currently a functioning Greek organization.


Gender-based Sexual Violence Task Force Recommendations.  Prompted in part by this incident, the Gender-based Sexual Violence Task Force of the Commission on Social Change brought forth a series of recommendations last semester.  We very much appreciate the good work of the Task Force.


Here is the current status of each recommendation:


1. Provide full base funding for annual Dismantling Rape Culture Conference, organized by the UVM Women’s Center.     

Status:  Full base funding will be identified to cover this annual event.


2. Initiate an independent review of the UVM Greek Life community. 

Status:  Outside experts have been identified to conduct this review, and they will be on campus in late September.   A final report with recommendations will be received by January, 2013.


3. Provide one-time funding for training costs to develop a comprehensive bystander intervention program.   

Status:  Funding will be identified to bring an expert trainer to our campus, to be hosted by the President’s Commission on Social Change. 


4. Grant base funding to hire a full-time Men’s Educator on campus. Additionally, we recommend support for a multi-phased plan that will lead to the creation of a Men’s Educational Center.   

Status:  This recommendation will be shared with the appropriate University official and considered through the budget planning process for FY 2014. 


5. Provide base funding for a post-doctoral position on relevant issues (e.g. sexual violence, masculinity, youth sexuality, etc.) to be housed in the Women’s and Gender Studies (WGST) Program.  

Status:  Again, this will be shared with the appropriate official and considered through the FY 2014 budget planning process. 


6. Expand opportunities for incoming students to engage with issues of sexual misconduct and assault, alcohol misuse and emotional distress through the creation of a required, credit-bearing class. The Taskforce recognizes that a one or two credit class may make it easier to incorporate into students’ schedules. 

Status:  This recommendation will be shared with the Provost and the Deans, as well as the Faculty Senate. The creation of a required credit-bearing course is ultimately the purview of the Senate.


7. Provide additional funds needed to hire a qualified full-time investigator (Administrative Analyst/Planner) in the Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Office (AA/EO). The investigator would be responsible for reviewing all alleged cases of discrimination, including sexual violence, from any campus community members (e.g. student, faculty or staff). 

Status:  An investigator has been hired in the AA/EO office.


8. For at least one year, choose a book for the First-Year Summer Reading Program that focuses on a topic pertaining to gender-based and sexual violence, gender socialization, global women’s rights, and/or the intersections between violence and oppression.

Status:  Recommended book selections will be shared with the First Year Advisory Board as they consider future readings.


9. Creation of a communication and response plan for upper level administration as well as the campus community when major incidents of bias, unusual death, sexual violence, alcohol & other drugs occur. The plan will allow for a community response that is informed and timely, and utilizes the expertise of the President’s Commission on Social Change.

Status:  This recommendation will be developed by the end of the Fall, 2012 semester with advice and input from the Presidential Commission, and forwarded to the President.


We will keep the community informed as further progress is made on these issues.


Thank you.