Since I arrived on campus, I have spent a lot of time listening. I have asked questions, lots of questions — to learn about each of the members of our campus community, the history of our campus community and the greater Albion community. I have been listening to you — to your concerns, opportunities you see, past mistakes you want me to know about, and your big dreams. I want to hear from everyone and remain committed to asking questions and listening to all who want to be heard.
I have also tried to set a new tone of transparency from the beginning with our campus. At times, I have heard from some of you that the deluge of information is too much. At other times, I have heard we did not share fast enough. Still, I have heard much appreciation for my approach and the openness with which I have been sharing, even in very challenging times during this global pandemic. Occasionally there will be times I cannot exercise my tendency towards directness and transparency because of policy and law.
As some of you have seen on social media, the College has received public and private messages expressing concern over incidents that allegedly happened in 2018, prior to my arrival. We have reached out to the students who contacted us to offer to engage in a private conversation so we can better understand the situation and hear their concerns. This engagement is ongoing.
Any conversations will be undertaken with the expectation of confidentiality. That is only right and fair — to do otherwise would undermine the trust of those who may come forward to discuss an issue they clearly feel strongly about.
The same is true with issues raised under Title IX. When a member of our learning community comes forward with a concern, we have pledged as a College to both address that concern and to keep the matter confidential. Confidential means just that: We will not publicly disclose any aspect of a Title IX complaint, including publicly acknowledging whether an investigation has taken place. We do this so everyone will feel able to participate freely and openly in our process without worrying about their identity or words being publicly shared, or that they will face retaliation. We abide by the letter and the spirit of our established policy that creates a duty to maintain confidentiality, which is reinforced by federal and state laws.
Some have asked why the College has not directly addressed the issues being raised on social media. Several have suggested we explain ourselves, others have demanded updates and action. While individuals have few constraints on their speech, the same is not true for the College. Please know that we investigate all complaints concerning the conduct of campus community members in accordance with our policies.
I recognize this might not be a satisfactory explanation for some members of our campus community. But the obligations we have to our entire learning community and to the rules by which we agree to behave as a community outweigh any perceived right to know — particularly when doing so would mean breaking a promise of confidentiality.
Dr. Mathew Johnson