The University Record, October 1, 1997

Executive Officers' Letter

Dear Members of the University Community:

As a campus community it will take time to recover from the shock of the recent murder of one of our students, Tamara S. Williams. Even as we mourn our loss, we also want to recognize and commend the many individuals who intervened on her behalf and who responded after the assault.

Beginning with her North Campus neighbors who immediately called 911 and tried to dissuade her attacker and the Department of Public Safety (DPS) officers who responded to the call, members of the University community have demonstrated their compassion, concern for others, and sincere desire to create a safe climate.

The trauma team and surgeons are to be commended as are the many faculty, staff, and students, who, each in their own way, responded to this tragedy. Many have helped us express our grief: counselors; Housing and Student Affairs staff who worked with Tamara's neighbors and friends; the Michigan Daily, which published a special edition; and individuals and organizations that planned vigils, to name just a few.

Although Tamara's death brings the issue of domestic violence to the forefront of our public consciousness, the campus community has been working for the past several years on concerns surrounding campus security. The first Task Force on Campus Safety and Security, which issued a report in 1990, and a second task force, which issued its report in April, have played a leadership role in those efforts.

The President's Task Force on Violence Against Women on Campus also has been working to educate members of the campus community about the many forms of violence against women÷from sexual assault, sexual harassment, and dating and domestic violence to stalking, threats, and other abusive behavior÷and to change attitudes that condone or perhaps even encourage acts of violence toward women. The task force is co-chaired by Patricia W. Coleman-Burns, assistant professor of nursing and director of multicultural affairs at the School of Nursing, and Daniel G. Saunders, associate professor of social work.

Student athletes have played an important role in this educational campaign. Team captains and their comments about violence against women are featured in a poster that is displayed prominently in a number of campus locations. The task force also has been working to broadcast its educational message through other means, as varied as bumper stickers, the Greek system, the English as a Second Language program, publication of a special issue of PRISM that addresses violence against women, and a Web page which will be operational in the near future.

Much more needs to be done, and to that end the task force is moving in new directions. Plans include:

ð Create a comprehensive system to distribute safety information using e-mail, campus newspapers and a distribution list for crime alerts.

ð Determine the range and type of training provided to U-M child care workers and teach child care workers to recognize and identify children affected by family violence.

ð Work with DPS to review current policies and protocols for responding to domestic violence and sexual assault among students living on campus.

ð Increase the scope and amount of material across the curriculum about violence against women.

ð Increase awareness among employees by providing additional training for supervisors regarding violence in the workplace and include material about violence in new employee orientation.

ð Identify gaps in campus services to victims of violence and recommend ways to fill those gaps.

We are extremely proud of how members of the University community responded to this crisis. We will continue our educational efforts regarding violence against women. Violence affects and concerns all of us, as demonstrated by our communal response to Tamara's death.


Lee C. Bollinger, President

Nancy E. Cantor, Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs

Gilbert S. Omenn, Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs