An Open Letter to President Daniel J. Martin, Douglas D. Backous, Tina A. Chang, Cedric L. Davis, Becky A. Gilliam, Dean A. Kato, Mark H. Mason, Dr. Pete C. Menjares, Dr. Denise A. Martinez, Daryl J. Miller, Mike S. Quinn, Leslie C. Ruiter, Richard E. Stearns, Bradley P. Thoreson, Dennis M. Weibling, Mathew H. Whitehead, Dr. Deborah J. Wilds, and Michael J. Wilson:
As stated in the memorandum of SPU’s Office of Human Resources, “Seattle Pacific University is committed to creating and maintaining a safe working and living environment for the students, faculty and staff of the University.” We, the collective students of Seattle Pacific University, thank you and the members of this institution for your commitment to our education and safety, and today, we call on you to act on it.
Recently, Betsy DeVos announced her decision to rescind the 2011 Dear Colleague Letter and, potentially, other guidance on the enforcement of Title IX. This guidance importantly clarified the obligations that universities, like Seattle Pacific University, have to protect and enforce the civil rights of their student body. If, after notice and comment, the administration does rescind the guidance, it will result in decreased enforcement of the Title IX protections that keep our students safe, and help them access equitable process and accommodations. This is unacceptable.
Today, we call upon each of you, and the rest of your administration, to make the commitment to take sexual violence at Seattle Pacific University seriously.
We, the undersigned students, ask that you make your voice heard to the Department of Education and Secretary DeVos by making a public statement during the notice and comment period to encourage DeVos to maintain the current policies and guidance that have been established by the past four decades of administrations on both sides of the aisle, including the 2011 Dear Colleague Letter.
This is not an issue of partisanship. It is an issue of civil rights, and of student safety. It is well past time that this university and this country move forward in the fight to eradicate sexual violence from places of learning. Enough is enough. It is critical that this university’s administration protect each and every student’s right to learn free from any kind of discrimination, especially if the government will not.
Stand up for survivors. Stand with survivors. Tell survivors that you believe them and that our beloved university will continue to support them by continuing to follow best practices and guidance previously issued by the Department of Education.