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President Conboy condemns sexual violence, announces plans to create safe campus environment

| Monday, April 26, 2021

In an email Monday to Saint Mary’s students and faculty, College President Katie Conboy addressed the ending of Sexual Assault Awareness Month and how the College plans to move forward regarding issues of sexual violence.

To begin, Conboy said she was shocked “by the behaviors and language” described in The Observer’s April 12 article examining the culture of Zahm House — particularly by the section detailing derogatory sexual comments about Saint Mary’s students made by some Zahm residents in a series of widespread emails.

“… I know many in our community were shaken to the core by that reporting,” Conboy wrote. “For these reasons, I raised the issue of sexual violence at our Faculty-Staff Town Hall last week: to ensure that everyone was aware of the impact those hateful words must be having on Saint Mary’s students, and to encourage people to speak about these matters in their classes and in other contexts where they interact with students.”

In addition, Conboy noted her pride after attending the tri-campus’ Take Back the Night events.

“Indeed, the Take Back the Night vigil highlighted the power of solidarity and allowed all of us to imagine what might happen if we showed up and stood up for each other every day,” Conboy wrote.

Conboy announced the College would host a symposium focused on combating sexual assault in April 2022. She also further expressed her commitment to creating a safe campus environment through the work of the Title IX Department.

“Please know that I am fully committed to providing a safe environment for all members of this community, beginning with the provisions of Title IX, which prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex in any education program or activity receiving federal financial aid,” she wrote.

Conboy also announced the College’s new Title IX leadership team, led by assistant director of residence life and student involvement Nicole Hundt, who will serve as the Title IX coordinator. Hundt will be supported by five deputy coordinators: registrar Nadia Ewing, professor James Gillespie, director of international students and multicultural services Adriana Petty, director of human resources Kris Urschel and associate director of the Disabilities Resources Office Jennifer Wright.

Conboy closed by encouraging students to continue using the resources provided by the Belles Against Violence Office (BAVO), to undergo Green Dot training and to participate in Denim Day on Wednesday.

“As your President, I will always stand with you,” Conboy concluded.

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