Update: TU President Responds To Student Letter Addressing Sexual Assault

Thursday, June 29th 2017, 7:53 pm
By: News On 6

Student leaders at the University of Tulsa are calling for changes regarding the school's assault and harassment prevention programs.

Editors of the university's student-run publication, The Collegian, announced Thursday in a Facebook post they emailed an open letter to the university's president, Gerard Clancy, to request administration "renew its focus on assault and harassment prevention programming."

6/28/2017 Related Story: TU's Education Department Addressing Issues After Losing Accreditation

The letter comes on the heels of the arrest of a student-athlete at the university on a rape complaint.

Lesley Nchanji, a soccer player from Cameroon, is accused of raping another athlete.

6/27/2017 Related Story: TU Soccer Player Charged With Sexual Assault Of Fellow Student

In its Facebook post, the student paper asked for people to share the post and to share their thoughts.

"The issue of sexual assault and harassment is extremely important to us, as we know it is for many TU students," they wrote in the post. "Please work with us to incite change on our campus."

Editor-in-Chief Emeritus Hannah Kloppenburg and Editor-in-Chief Kayleigh Thesenvitz signed the letter.

Kloppenburg and Thesenvitz will talk to News On 6 on Friday about why they sent the letter.

Clancy responded to the letter shortly after it was sent to him.

Clancy's full statement is below:

"Thank you for the detailed e-mail and references. And thank you to the students involved in this very important work. I agree with many of your conclusions. To be successful in providing a safe campus for all and in changing campus culture around assault, we need to work hand in hand with our students, so you have my pledge to do so. I greatly appreciate your interest and willingness to help. Here are some of my initial ideas to change the culture, and I would welcome your feedback.

Culture Change Starts at the Top – As a practicing psychiatrist in north Tulsa for the past 5 years at the Wayman Tisdale Clinic, 80% of my patients were women and virtually all had experienced horrible trauma that they witnessed among their family members or they themselves experienced. This included sexual assaults from early age. Many of my patients were in their 30s and 40s and had been experiencing Clinical Depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder for many years. I usually was the first psychiatrist that they had ever met. Most had needed to resort to substance abuse to feel somewhat better. They also often had chronic pain syndromes, hypertension and diabetes. All of this starting with trauma earlier in life. My point here is that I have a unique perspective on how sexual assaults can affect someone for years to come. I think I am the only psychiatrist in the U.S. who is also a university president. I would like to use this unique educational tool as best we can, so think about some ideas. Am happy to write articles to support changing our culture, give student talks, anything. Like you, I worry about preaching to the “choir.”

Culture Change Starts on the First Day – I plan to use the convocation ceremony this year to emphasize our obligation to take care of ourselves and each other. Our obligation to not hurt ourselves and not hurt others. Our obligation to intervene when something bad is about to happen. Again, help me with what would be the right tone and words that would stick with those that are not in the “choir.”

Basic Education Programs that Work – We, too, noted that the current online sexual violence program was not a good program. After careful review, the committee identified a new introductory educational program will be tried this year. But these online education programs are just a basic introduction (as you know.)

Best Practices – We have many programs going across campus. It is time to see what is actually working and that is again where the students input is vital. We have Kelsey Hancock as a well-researched expert on trauma and campus programs that work as part of the grant program you mentioned. In fact, while you sent your e-mail, Kelsey and I were working together in my office on changing policies that work toward prevention on this campus. Kelsey has great knowledge on what has worked elsewhere.

Binge Drinking – Alcohol is involved in many of our assault cases. When people are intoxicated, many of our prevention programs are not nearly as effective (such as Bystander Intervention). Would love to hear ideas on how to stem binge drinking. Would love to hear how we can get the hosts of parties to take care of their guests and watch over them.

Dedicated Workforce to Help – We are hiring a dedicated Title IX coordinator who will add workforce to our efforts. The coordinator will have prevention, early intervention, investigation and education duties. We have an outstanding group of applicants, and the person should be hired before school starts.

These are just some starting points. Am pleased to work alongside you.

Gerry Clancy"