In Support of Franciscan University of Steubenville
Open letter to Franciscan University of Steubenville from Alumni:
Recently a discussion has emerged concerning Franciscan University of Steubenville’s handling of allegations of sexual assault on and off campus. Concern has been expressed that the University does not take seriously the plight of students who have suffered sexual assault and does not provide adequate help for these students.
In our experience as students and alumni the University faculty, administration, and staff are made up of people who care deeply about the well-being of the students academically, spiritually, morally, physically, and psychologically. While we may have experienced issues with the administration at times, our experiences in the world after graduation have made us even more grateful for the friendships made, education received, and opportunities for spiritual growth made possible by the extremely healthy culture on the University’s campus.
Therefore, we the undersigned alumni wish to state our support for Franciscan University of Steubenville and her administration. While we know that no human institution will always and everywhere perfectly address such issues and are aware that mistakes have sometimes been made, we are grateful for all the ways that the University has worked to improve its sexual assault policies and procedures and to better educate, defend, and protect students. We recognize that far from reluctantly addressing Title IX requirements, the University has faithfully implemented Title IX, and has gone beyond it by providing programming intended to help students recognize the dignity of every person, thus fostering a culture of true Christian chastity and respect among her students.
We wish also to state our support of the University for engaging in the public square and applying Catholic principles to the challenges of the modern world. We support authentic Catholic academic inquiry and discussion on how best to address current situations prudently, and hope that faculty, staff, alumni, and students will continue to do so in a thoughtful and respectful manner.
Finally, we wish to state our concern that the tenor of the current discussion is such that rather than aiding and championing victims of sexual assault, it may in fact have the effect of discouraging students from coming forward when they have suffered a sexual assault. We wish to encourage the faculty, staff, and students currently on campus as they strive to create an atmosphere of concern and caring, but also justice. And we especially encourage students who suffer sexual assault to come forward, confident that the administration will receive and investigate their case with compassion and fairness.