Director’s Corner- October 2017

Director’s Corner- October 2017

As many of you know, beyond a written policy, the university has been working hard on matters pertaining to sexual misconduct not only on our campus, but working state-wide with other constituents.  I think it is important to note that at UD, we have created a climate that encourages reporting which is seen in an increased number of reports over the recent years.

We have established a brand for sexual misconduct, kNOw MORE, that raises awareness about sexual misconduct focusing our efforts on students as well as our employees.  Student Life leads the Sexual Assault Prevention and Education (SAPE) Committee which plans programming and events to further educate our student population in this area.  Finally, we have been working with our campus partners and Greek life to educate chapter leaders on being an active bystander.  This has also been incorporated into this year’s First Year Experience curriculum!

In light of the recent comments from the Department of Education, the university strives to conduct a fair and equitable process for all parties involved in matters of sexual misconduct and I believe our policy reflects that balance.

Director’s Corner- September 2017

Director’s Corner

Welcome back to another exciting year at UD!  We have been working hard striving towards inclusive excellence during the spring and summer months.  Read what we’ve been up to below.

I am pleased to announce the University of Delaware has adopted a revised non-discrimination policy that applies to all members of the University community and went into effect Aug. 1, 2017.  The policy expresses opposition to discrimination and harassment and prohibits such behavior by anyone on UD’s property, and it assists the University to comply with federal and state civil rights laws in relation to such misconduct.

The new policy brings together the resources, reporting mechanisms and resolution processes for students, faculty, staff, visitors and vendors. It centralizes information and compliance — which was previously located in various policies and departments — to one office on campus: the Office of Equity and Inclusion (OEI).  In addition, the new document outlines the procedure for investigating student cases, which has changed from a full hearing to one-on-one guidance from a trained professional, mirroring the sexual misconduct policy.

The revisions to UD’s policy were made in consultation with a committee charged by myself and Dean of Students, José Riera. The group consisted of University faculty, students and leaders from various units, including Residence Life and Housing, UD Police, Athletics, Center for Black Culture, Office of Student Conduct, Office for International Students and Scholars, Human Resources and Graduate and Professional Education. The President’s Executive Committee approved the policy.

In addition, the University adopted three policies this past academic year that OEI now manages, in an effort to ensure the protection of minors – individuals who have not reached their 18th birthday – while attending programs, camps, and other events held on the University of Delaware property or in University facilities.  The policies are as follows:

  • Minors on campus (sponsored or organized by the University): This policy is applicable for programs sponsored or organized by University employees, volunteers, and/or organizations on behalf of or in the name of the University.
  • Minors on campus (sponsored or organized by third parties): This policy is applicable for programs sponsored or organized by third parties.
  • Reporting of suspected child abuse: This policy addresses the mandatory reporting of suspected child abuse and/or neglect.

Each program is required to register with the University and have adequate sign-in/sign-out procedures and an appropriate number of adult supervisors based on the ages of the participants. Requirements for the staff and volunteers include background checks and training.  For more information about these important policies, please contact Jessica Rickmond, Associate Director, in our office.

I am pleased to announce the updated Statement of Respect & Responsibility as seen here on our Values website.  This statement was a result of the hard work from the members of the Respect & Civility Committee charged by the VP, Diversity with oversight from OEI.   The final membership of that committee is outlined below:


The members of the Respect Committee include:

Communications & Public Affairs Holly Norton
Disability Support Services Anne Jannarone
Equity and Inclusion Jennifer Daniels
  Jessica Rickmond*
Facilities, Real Estate & Auxiliary Services Sheila Boyle
  Jo Alice Casapulla
  Banlusack Phommachanh
Graduate Student Senate Cesar Caro
Human Resources Patty Fogg*
Information Technology Kate Webster
LGBTQ Caucus Karla Bell
The Libraries Julie Brewer
Student Government Association Matthew Rojas
Student Life Katie Rizzo
UDPD Jeff Evans


Finally, it is my hope for those that live, work and learn in our community to treat one another with dignity, respect and civility at all times.  Working in the office of equity and inclusion, I see too many situations that result in matters of us simply not being kind to one another, not respectful to each other and not civil to those that work and learn with us.  As the esteemed Mayo Angelou stated, “When we know better, we do better.”  I know that we as Blue Hens can and will rise to make this year a happy, healthy and safe 2017-2018.


Susan L. Groff, Ed. D.

Considerations for Allies

In our current social and political climate, there is no question that we have work left to do when it comes to combating the oppressive forces that pull at the very fabric of our identity as a nation. For those of us in seemingly privileged positions, these forces may not be daily considerations as we go about our lives, heading to and from work, and tackling the daily projects that occupy our time. However, that is all the more reason why it is important that we accept the responsibility we have as allies for fostering change and promoting inclusive excellence.

Very often, as Jenn and I speak with members of the UD community, we are presented with a very straight-forward, but far from simple question. “What can I do?” This is feeling of confusion can be overwhelming in the face of so much turmoil and so many concerns. It can seem a daunting task as we speak with our colleagues and truly begin to realize just how different our life experiences can be from the person one office over. However, there are many direct strategies we can employ as we strive to be allies for social justice!

Assume oppression is everywhere…because it is everywhere. Just as we breath the air around us but forget it’s there, it’s important to remember that racism, sexism, homophobia, and other forms of oppression are everywhere, and they influence all of our actions. It’s important to think critically about how these forces influence our actions, as well as those of our colleagues, family members, and friends. Once we recognize who has a voice, who doesn’t have a voice, and how those voices are received, we can begin to understand the scope of oppression in our daily lives.

Recognize how oppression is discussed. Do we talk about these oppressive forces, or do we hear folks denying their presence and impact in our lives? Are people making other excuses for oppressive behavior? Are racism, sexism, homophobia, and other forces being downplayed around us? If and when we can answer yes to these questions, then we begin to see not only why it’s a difficult conversation to have, but more importantly why it’s such an important conversation to have with others.

Notice who is at the table. When you walk into meetings, attend events, or go about your work day, notice who is present and who isn’t present. Notice who has power in those settings and who doesn’t have power. Recognize not only who is speaking, but how their comments are received and respected.

Avoid personal attacks. There is a big difference between stating that something that someone SAID was racist/sexist/homophobic, and calling that person racist/sexist/homophobic. Focus on comments and actions, and avoid personal attacks. You can discuss the nature of a comment, but you can’t support a personal attack on someone’s character.

Be ready to slip. All of us slip up from time-to-time. No matter how long you spend discussing issues of oppression, you are going to say something inappropriate and instantly regret it. Be open to that feedback without getting defensive. Being an ally means constantly learning better to do better.

Build alliances. We can’t do this work alone, and we can’t do it in silos. Find others who are committed and collaborate on projects. Attend workshops. Read more. Learn more. Look for opportunities to educate family and friends around you. If you are a parent, talk to your children about these ideas. They see it and experience it everyday too, and it’s important for them to have the knowledge and language to address it as well.

There is no quick fix for the problems tugging at the fabric of our society, but finding our place in the solution is an important step. We all have a role to play in creating a community based on inclusive excellence, and we are ask excited as ever to participate in that journey with you!

Remember the Sexual Misconduct Policy? It’s working!

The University of Delaware is committed to protecting students’ and employees’ civil rights in their working and learning environments.  Title VII and Title IX, federal statutes that prohibit sex discrimination in these environments, have been in existence since 1964 and 1972 respectively.  Did you know that the enforcement of Title VII is managed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and applies to the employment setting?  And that the enforcement of Title IX is managed by the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) housed within the U.S. Department of Education? Did you know that the university used these two federal pieces of legislation, as well as other federal mandates, to inform our Sexual Misconduct Policy which was recently updated in July 2015?

The university commitment is reflected in the sexual misconduct policy which addresses complaints of sex discrimination, sexual harassment, sexual assault, dating/domestic violence and stalking.   The policy applies to all faculty, students and staff and is managed and enforced by the Office of Equity & Inclusion (OEI).  OEI is in the midst of updating the remainder of our non-discrimination policies to better address complaints of discriminatory harassment based on protected classes.  More to come on that topic soon!

The past few years our federal government has cracked down on college campuses to better address complaints of sex discrimination, which was defined as sexual harassment and further clarified in 2011 to include sexual assault.  With that said, it is not surprising to learn from OCR’s recently published annual report citing the number of complaints filed within the last year “skyrocketed to 16,720…”.  The total number of complaints made to OCR based on sex discrimination were 7,747 compared to 2015’s 2,939.  The total number of complaints filed with the EEOC for the employment side of sexual harassment for FY2015 was 12,573.  If you follow the university’s Title IX incident reports, you will notice that there was a spike in reporting in 2014 and 2015 (~200) compared to year’s prior (~50-60).  So why make a big deal about reporting?  Well, my friends, reporting matters and here’s why.

For starters, reporting helps complainants.  If an individual reports an incident to OEI, be it a third party report or a self-report, we can offer the complainant resources and help the individual connect to those resources while also explaining their rights and options in these matters.  This is very important because often-times, complainants do not know where to go, what happens with the information, or more importantly, how to get help.  Reporting to OEI does not automatically trigger an investigation.  In fact, in most cases an investigation does not ensue unless the complainant chooses to do so.  Secondly, if reporting is happening, and we see a trend developing (such as a repeat offender, a location, a group, etc.), then the university may be able to move forward with an investigation, making the situation safer for all without the complainant having to make the complaint.

We continue to see an increase in reporting.  This semester (Fall 2016) we received 136 reports compared to last fall’s 110. In these numbers, it is important to keep in mind that not all reports made to the office rise to the level of a prohibited offense as defined by our policy.  The good news is our students are learning about the sexual misconduct information being provided to the UD community!  In spring 2015, we conducted a campus climate survey that was administered to all of our undergraduates.  The survey confirmed what we already knew – our students did not know much about our policies, practices or the resources available to them in these cases.  During the fall semester of 2016, the office had more students self-report these matters and get connected to the resources than they have in the last two years.  This is a victory because we want to ensure that complainants are getting the help that they need.

We have conducted more investigations this fall (13), then we did last fall (0).  The policy is working.  The process is working.  This is not to say we are perfect, because we are not, but we have made significant strides in the area of Title IX and sexual misconduct and we continue to look for ways to effectively reach all in our community with this information.  The university will not tolerate this behavior from anyone and when it is brought to our attention you need to have the confidence that it is addressed.

Employees, as a friendly reminder, are obligated to report any incident of sexual misconduct directly to the university’s Title IX coordinator unless you have been identified by OEI as a confidential resource:  Dr. Susan L. Groff, 305 Hullihen Hall, 302.831.8063,  Check out the website for this information at .