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Education

FSU Dean Reacts To Media Reports On Sexual Misconduct

 Florida State University Administration building
Florida State University Administration building

Florida State University has issued an announcement regarding reporting procedures for incidents of sexual misconduct. It follows a letter Dean Tim Chapin sent to faculty and staff at the College of Social Sciences and Public Policy.

Both were issued following media reports about a former FSU professor who faced credible allegations over more than two decades and was allowed to abruptly retire during an investigation last year.

Dean Chapin's response was sent Tuesday afternoon, hours after our story aired on WFSU. Here is his letter:

FOR ALL COLLEGE OF SOCIAL SCIENCES AND PUBLIC POLICY FACULTY & STAFF

Recent reports have brought to light that a former college faculty member engaged in reprehensible behaviors during his time at the university. These acts brought great distress and hurt to a number of students, faculty, and staff, and undermined the trust many have in the college and institution.

As soon as reports of these appalling behaviors were brought to my attention, I worked with university officials, specifically Human Resources, to immediately remove the faculty member from the classroom and prohibit any contact with students and FSU personnel. A formal investigation was immediately launched and was underway at the time the faculty member resigned from the university. This resignation permanently ended his employment at FSU as well as any future engagement with faculty and staff, but most importantly with students.

As Dean of the College of Social Sciences and Public Policy, I want to state clearly and unambiguously that sexual misconduct and sexual harassment have no place in our community. The University has a zero-tolerance policy for these behaviors, and this value must be loudly communicated and universally known.

I will continue to do everything within my power to ensure that any incidents of sexual misconduct and harassment are documented, reviewed, and addressed, in accordance with university policies and procedures.

True progress requires a shared commitment by faculty, staff, and students to stamp out sexual misconduct and sexual harassment in our community and within society at large. This holds true for any type of harassment and discrimination. It is incumbent upon all of us to do something when these incidents occur, which may include speaking up, taking care of those that are impacted, and appropriately reporting so that action can be taken.

In the final weeks of this semester and into the next academic year, the college will be pursuing a range of activities to reflect on and respond to what happened. Next week Associate Vice President for Human Resources Renisha Gibbs and I will hold a session with faculty and staff to hear your concerns. The college is working with University Counseling Services and the Employee Assistance Program to secure needed, ongoing support for those directly affected. The college will also partner with the Title IX office and Human Resources to facilitate educational sessions aimed at preventing sexual misconduct and sexual harassment in our community. Lastly, I will be seeking input from the community about other activities and actions to help ensure that nothing like this ever happens again in our college.

The college will undertake all of the above, and much more, with the explicit goal of enforcing a zero tolerance policy for sexual misconduct and sexual harassment in our college.

Please visit FSU’s kNOwMORE website at to receive guidance on university resources, get help, or report an incident.

As ever, please know that any member of the college community can reach me directly at tchapin@fsu.edu.

—————-

This morning, a message was sent to all faculty and staff at FSU. It was approved by Angela Lauer Chong, J.D., Associate Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students:

Sex Discrimination and Sexual Misconduct are contrary to Florida State University’s values and moral standards, which recognize the dignity and worth of each person. Sexual Misconduct includes: gender- based discrimination; sexual harassment; sexual violence; relationship violence; stalking; sexual exploitation; and other sex- or gender-based misconduct. We all have an important role in supporting our students and a responsibility to report disclosures of sexual misconduct to the appropriate resource.

Faculty and staff are in a unique position to assist students who may have experienced sexual misconduct. Faculty and staff can see warning signs, like absences from class or work, decreased productivity, lower grades, or social withdrawal. People often tell those they trust. In your role, you may be one of the first people in whom a student confides. Use the information below to aid you in supporting/responding to students and in fulfilling your mandatory reporting obligation.

If a student discloses an incident of sexual misconduct to you:

STEP ONE: Care for the Student

• Reassure the individual that you are available to listen and help. Get the broad details; do not ask invasive or judgmental questions.

• Ensure the student is safe.

o Contact the police if there is immediate danger, or if the student requests

o FSUPD: (850) 644-1234 or 911.

• Let them know that certain things they may tell you about (i.e., discrimination or sexual misconduct) will require you to notify University administrators in order to ensure that they are given timely access to resource and response information.

STEP TWO: Connect Students to Confidential Resources

• Victim Advocate Program

Provides confidential, 24-hour, free support services including: advocating to faculty and staff; connecting to campus and community resources; and assisting through medical, legal, and university processes.

Call (850) 644-7161

• University Counseling Center

Confidential, free mental health counseling and referrals.

Call (850) 644-TALK (8255)

• University Health Services

Health services provides comprehensive services for students.

Call (850) 644-4567

STEP THREE: Fulfill Employee Reporting Obligation

• Report disclosures online at report.fsu.edu, or to Tricia Buchholz, Title IX Director/Coordinator at tbuchholz@fsu.edu or 850-645-2741.

• Notify the student you are submitting a report and that the Title IX Director will follow up with the student to review resources and response options, including requests for confidentiality or no action by the University.

• If the affected student is a minor (under 18 years of age), you must also report to the FL Department of Children and Families; https://hr.fsu.edu/sections/equity-diversity-inclusion/protection-vulnerable-persons-act

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As an employee, your reporting obligation is mandatory to ensure that all affected individuals consistently receive the same resources and response options/ information. Please note, your obligation is to receive and report the disclosures; not to investigate or notify any affected individual(s).

VISIT FOR MORE INFORMATION

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