Earlier this morning, an email sent by President John Simon, Provost Patrick Farrell and Vice President of Finance and Administration Patricia Johnson was sent out to address the campus community about recent sexual misconduct investigations. Since August 1, 2018, there have been eight reports of sexual misconduct reported to Lehigh's Lehigh's Title IX Coordinator. (Samuel Henry/B&W Staff)

Email from President’s Office expresses urgency toward sexual misconduct

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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. 

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9 Comments

  1. Sounds like the same quality of complaints being used by the despicables on the left in Congress. Hope we are using Betsy’s criteria and not the Kenyan’s.

    • Barry's a Misogynist on

      What about “sexual assault, sexual exploitation, stalking, dating violence and domestic violence,” which is how the article describes the nature of the Title IX complaints, indicates to you that the complaints are of low “quality”? You’re dismissing the merits of these reports without any factual basis whatsoever demonstrates your absurd stupidity and the misogyny you’ve been so privileged to posses since your birth in the 1940s. Fake news? Alternative facts? Not to mention your reference to President Obama as a Kenyan is a tired racist dog whistle. Get over yourself, you old triggered deplorable. Believe me when I say that this isn’t your Lehigh anymore, and all of us who matter are overjoyed that’s the case. You’re unfit to call yourself an alumnus of Lehigh University.

    • Amy Charles '89 on

      Hi, prospective students.

      What you see above is, sadly, representative of most of Lehigh’s history. Although things have started to change in recent years, the vast bulk of the living alumni hold views like the one you see up there. What does that mean for your college decision?

      As you know, a major benefit of going to any smaller, private school is its close-knit alumni network. However, that’s only a benefit if the alumni network are people who (a) want to associate with you and (b) have connections you would actually want. A tight network of well-off, but deeply racist and misogynist men, is not really an asset for you, particularly if you are not a white and entirely selfcentered young man.

      So as you’re looking, look for colleges whose student bodies not only skewed further left through the 60s, 70s, and 80s, but admitted more women, and had more diverse student bodies generally. In the 80s, for instance, Lehigh was still only 1/3 women, and all the students of color could’ve met in one UC meeting room: the student body was overwhelmingly white and male. Those alumni are now in their 50s. So consider the scenario:

      You’re meeting alumni and hoping they might be able to help you connect to a job. You’re not a white man.
      You’re introduced to an older, well-connected, influential white guy in a suit and he shakes your hand, but you don’t really remind him of himself, so he’s polite but there’s no real warmth; OR
      You’re introduced to an older, well-connected, influential woman looking to help women and minorities get ahead.

      Look for depth in in your future university’s alumni diversity.

      • Amy I prefer to be called a Deplorable (and proud of it including my guns and bible)! And Lehigh used to be a school for teaching engineers. Not Snowflakes!

    • Amen Barry.

      For the good of the students and the good of the admin, trustees, and endowment I hope LU gets out of the investigation and judge/jury business. Judges are smacking down uni’s for lack of due process weekly. Plaintiffs now have a real shot at going after title ix coordinators etc individually if they are not following Betsy’s criteria (more detail to be published by EOY) and precedents being set at trials. Once the dollar amounts recovered begin to increase and individuals individually held responsible (pierce the corporate veil), then needed change will occur. How quickly with LU adapt – before of after a damaging case?

      Using Title IX to investigate and prosecute sexual attacks/rape is evolving and and change is coming very quickly in this area. Why institutions like unis and the church want to investigate crimes is beyond me. Most unis have a hard time tossing a student for cheating…and they know a lot about education, learning, test/papers. If they can’t investigate an academic violation correctly and punish then why and how do they take on rape?

      The unis should save their money and reduce their risk by referring each student to the local PD and courts. If there is anything in follow up that is needed, counseling etc…then there is help for the school to provide. If the accuser needs classes changed, dorm changed, counseling etc then the school helps there. After case is settled or if charges are serious enough the student is booted.

      For the good of all people and the good of the unis, students should report attacks to the police. I think about the UVA killer from time to time. He had been booted from Liberty and Christopher Newport…both for attacks and attempted attacks…before going to work at UVA medical and carry out these terrible attacks every few years. There was no prior police reports on him. It took a number of dead UVA girls (girls he tortured before killing) for him to get on the police radar. He would have been on the radar very quickly if he had any priors but unis don’t share their title ix info with police.

  2. Amy Charles '89 on

    I’ll put in another plug here for Project Callisto, which gives sexual assault victims more control over how and when they report their assaults. https://www.projectcallisto.org It would be great to see the service used at Lehigh.

    I should say too that it’s worth talking with your parents about how you think you would respond, what they would like to know, and what they would do to help and support you if you’re sexually assaulted at school. It’s common enough that it shouldn’t be a taboo subject, and it might be a good idea for both you and them to know what the options are ahead of time, and to think about what you’d want. If you’d go to the police, for instance, who would you want with you, and what would the procedure be? Would you need a lawyer, and if so, who would you call? (Your parents’ lawyer is probably not the one you’d want.) What would be out of your hands once you’d reported? If your parents live very far away, who could you turn to? And what about the Title IX office, what are your procedures and rights there, what may Karen tell your parents under FERPA, how would this all work, and how would you be able to go on with your classes while all this was going on? What would happen if you needed to take a break, and what would you want out of the process?

    If your parents aren’t willing to talk about these things, do you know who you’d be able to turn to for support and advocacy, given that a university’s Title IX office is, bottom line, there to look after the university’s interests?

    Fingers crossed, you’ll never need to use that planning. But if you do, it’s handy to have it, and it may be useful for someone else.

  3. Weary Alumnus on

    Lehigh, like so much of the academy in the United States, has degenerated into a pathetic joke of an institution that panders to every politically correct movement du jour.

    George Mason University professor Walter Williams describes this sorry state in a recent column:

    https://www.creators.com/read/walter-williams/09/18/university-corruption

    This column starts out by discussing Heather Mac Donald’s recent book:

    “The Diversity Delusion: How Race and Gender Pandering Corrupt the University and Undermine Our Culture”

    Mac Donald, of the Manhattan Institute, is also a noted authority on the topic of sexual harassment. I note her recent thoughts on this topic published today, October 7.

    https://www.city-journal.org/rape-16216.html

    I observe that president Simon worked at both Duke University and the University of Virginia. Both of which, as Mac Donald points out, have truly shameful records with regards to campus sexual issues. Simon needs to take serious note of those fiascoes and not let similar hysteria engulf Lehigh.

  4. Thank you for your support. In my day Lehigh taught predominantly engineering and business. Don’t think that was Amy’s cause of study!

  5. Barry you’re a dinosaur with that logic. I’m thrilled that the Lehigh I went to is different that the all white male institution you attended back in the day of Jim Crowe laws.

    At the end of the day in 2018 were asking and expecting more of our institutions and graduates. By denouncing sexual violence on campus and saying that we don’t want those who commit such heinous acts to hold degrees bearing the name of our beloved alma mater that sits on south mountain, we truly rise to the occasion to demand more of those who seek and earn a Lehigh degree. As some of you mentioned, you don’t think universities should be charged with investigating and prosecuting such crimes. It is fair to say that there is an entire criminal justice system that exists to do this; however, as history has shown, the justice system has glaring failures when it comes to these crimes. It falls into the university to investigate and decide punishment for such acts and who better to decide who is worthy of attending an institution other than an institution itself?

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