Sexual Respect at CalArts

This email from President Ravi Rajan was sent to the entire CalArts community, announcing a comprehensive effort to reinforce the collective emphasis on sexual respect at CalArts.

Dear CalArtians,

For as much as this past year has taught us — about ourselves, our health, our society — this lesson stands tall: when this community pulls together in one direction, when we support each other towards a greater good, we emerge resilient, stronger and more empowered.

I’m drawing on that foundation today as I announce a comprehensive effort to reinforce our collective emphasis on sexual respect at CalArts.

As we honor Sexual Assault Awareness Month in April, we must continue to amplify our efforts towards awareness and prevention regarding Sexual Respect at CalArts. Key to this is ensuring our constant, persistent, and enduring commitment to averting harassment. Our community must be an inclusive environment for everyone — every artist, every visitor, and anyone else who has occasion to encounter CalArts in any venue.

To make sure we’re achieving this fundamental objective, I’m initiating three specific steps to roll out over the rest of this calendar year:

  • An annual update. Released in May, this dispatch will chronicle and detail our ongoing efforts — and efforts to date — to promote a safe, secure, and welcoming environment for all. It will become a yearly practice. 
  • An internal sexual-respect review. Led by La Shonda Coleman, the Title IX coordinator at Pepperdine University, this assessment will center both on how we’re already fostering our climate and preventing sexual harassment and related misconduct, and how we can continue to improve. Work on this evaluation will begin over the summer. A working committee of CalArtians, including student, staff, faculty, and alumnx representation, will help inform and guide the review. 
  • A community-wide survey of sexual respect. Planned for the Fall 2021 semester, this thorough outreach will engage CalArtians to evaluate the prevalence of and learn about the collective experiences of sexual misconduct, including harassment, in the community. The working committee will also assist with this measure, prioritizing a complete, nuanced, and precise analysis. 

Director of Community Rights and Responsibilities Dionne Simmons, our Title IX coordinator, will lead the committee, whose membership will include Institute Diversity Officer Eva Graham, representation from the Office of Student Experience, as well as faculty, staff, student, and alumni representatives engaging these councils for their selection. Expect to receive ongoing updates from Dionne and Eva as we move forward.

When the review and survey reach their end and generate recommendations, committee members will help design and carry forth any next steps that we may need to take as a community.

At any time starting today, you can reach the committee at — and I urge you to make use of that resource. Please do not wait for the review and survey if you have experiences, thoughts and other input that you want to share right away. We will take note of what you send regardless of when you send it. This email address is meant to allow the community to contribute ideas, share thoughts, and communicate during this process. The information shared via this address will be kept private to the extent possible, and used specifically for the work of the committee.

In the meantime, please know how much I appreciate your dedication to ensuring the safety and well-being of each and every member of our community. Thanks in advance for raising your voice in these crucial efforts and expect more details to come.

With gratitude,