Lehigh’s Title IX Coordinator has received eight reports of sexual misconduct since the start of the academic year, according to an email sent by President John Simon, Provost Patrick Farrell and Vice President of Finance and Administration Patricia Johnson.
“In light of recent incidents of sexual misconduct at Lehigh, we’re writing, with a sense of urgency, to express our concern for the safety and well-being of our community,” they wrote.
Karen Salvemini, Lehigh’s Title IX Coordinator, said the eight reports of misconduct occurred since Aug. 1, but she can’t say whether that number is unusually high for the time frame.
Brooke DeSipio, the director of Gender Violence Education & Support, said despite the number of reports, her office has not seen an increase in students seeking support for sexual misconduct.
“Because the behaviors have always been happening, the support has always been needed,” she said. “The uptick (in statistics) is in the reporting. I would imagine that as more folks come forward to report they will need more or want more support services as they move through those formal reporting processes.”
Assistant Chief of Police Christopher Houtz said sexual misconduct incidents are likely underreported, partially due to social culture and Lehigh’s relatively small campus community.
“I think in some cases, victims are afraid to come forward and are afraid of being chastised around campus,” he said.
According to the email, the eight reports of sexual misconduct include sexual assault, sexual exploitation, stalking, dating violence and domestic violence. Salvemini said different types of reports may require different processes, which can be found in Title IX’s policies.
Though she was not an author of the email, Salvemini said the purpose of it was not only to highlight reports that have been made but to also outline the resources and support systems Lehigh offers for victims.
DeSipio said Lehigh’s senior leadership consulted with her to ensure the most relevant information was included in the email, as well as the resources available to survivors.
Sexual assault and sexual harassment can be reported to the Lehigh University Police Department or Salvemini, who can help students explore investigation options and connect them with both on- and off-campus resources.
“While sexual assault and sexual harassment are societal issues, they are particularly prevalent on college campuses,” the email read. “Such behaviors will not be tolerated or excused.”
This brief will be updated as more information becomes available.
Musa Jamshed and Jordan Wolman also contributed to this article.