A Letter to Notre Dame Students: Let's Keep Our Community Safe

Author: Erin Hoffmann Harding

Published in The Observer September 3, 2015
Dear Notre Dame students,
My heart sank when I learned of several reports of sexual assault last weekend. While I am
encouraged that students are comfortable reporting, and I have great confidence in the support
and response systems the University and our partners have in place, we will never be content
until these incidents cease.
Sexual assault is contrary to Notre Dame’s values in every way. When one of us is hurt, our
entire community is also harmed and called to provide support to those directly impacted, while
also reinforcing that this behavior is not tolerated. We have worked hard together to try to
prevent and respond to instances of sexual assault and sexual misconduct, but every email notice
reminds us that our goal has not been reached and we can and must do more as a community of
students, faculty, and staff.
I encourage you to get involved in prevention and culture change efforts like the Green Dot
violence prevention program that is new to our campus this year. Over 120 faculty and
administrators, and more than 1,500 students have already received an overview of this program.
You will hear more about how you can contribute to this effort over the coming semester.
Bystander intervention training was just completed for all new first-year, transfer, and graduate
students and is available through the Gender Relations Center.
Please refresh your own understanding of the policies and expectations we have in place at Notre
Dame as well as the ways you can help a friend find resources if needed. Our residential hall
staff just renewed their extensive annual training on sexual assault, so they are knowledgeable
and compassionate sources of help. Confidential resources are available both on and off campus.
Last spring, I sent a comprehensive letter that outlined preventing, reporting, and response efforts
available at Notre Dame with respect to sexual assault – you can find this letter and more
resources on the Division of Student Affairs website (http://studentaffairs.nd.edu/titleix). Above
all else, if you know someone or have been personally impacted by sexual violence, please reach
out to us for support – this is not a journey to be walked alone.
As we continue this academic year, please commit to keeping watch over one another, making
good decisions about where and how you socialize, being vigilant about the risks of alcohol, and
using the bystander skills you have learned (direct, delegate, or distract) when you observe
situations that could present risk to another. Your involvement is essential to ending violence on
our campus. The sense of family we cultivate here at Notre Dame is one of our most beloved
and distinctive values – let our care and concern for each other keep our community safe this
weekend, for the rest of the year, and for years to come.
In Notre Dame,
Erin Hoffmann Harding
Vice President for Student Affairs