Events of April 17
April 20, 2018
Dear students, staff and faculty:
A number of people have written to me, Dean Etheredge and other college staff members to convey concerns about the interactions of a Campus Police officer with a Smith student when called to the scene of an emergency on April 17. We have responded to individual inquiries; I write now to inform the campus community about our next steps.
Campus Police officers, who serve the Smith, Hampshire and Mount Holyoke campuses as a joint force, are held to the highest standards of conduct and undergo regular training, including mental health first-responder training. The April 17 Campus Police response is under active investigation by Smith’s officer in charge, Lieutenant Susan Dawley, and Campus Police Chief Francisco Ortiz, in consultation with Vice President for Inclusion, Diversity and Equity David Carreon Bradley. During the investigation, the officer in question is on leave and not actively serving on any campus.
Like all colleges, universities and health care providers, Smith is bound by clear and specific regulations that prohibit us from commenting on an individual’s health status. This is both a legal requirement and a commitment to individual privacy. I am grateful for the concern expressed about the student and trust that community members will understand why we cannot comment on the individual’s status.
Smith College places the highest priority on students’ safety, health and well-being. My team and I are committed to responding promptly, appropriately and compassionately to students in need of medical or emotional care. In the last three years, we have expanded the counseling center staff to help meet the needs of our students. Currently, we are assessing our mental health services, with the support of the JED Foundation and a committee of students, staff, faculty and representatives from Campus Police.
The resources of the Office of the Dean of the College, including those of the Schacht Center for Health and Wellness as well as the those of the Office of Inclusion, Diversity and Equity, are available for support or to report an issue of concern. Our Gender-Based and Sexual Misconduct Policy affirms our commitment to maintaining an environment that is free of sexual and gender-based discrimination and harassment of any kind.
There is nothing more important to me than ensuring that everyone at Smith College is treated with respect. I want everyone, especially our students, to know that I and my team are committed to redressing wrongs, to improving our education and trainings, and to delivering the kind of academic, social and health experience and support that will enable our community to thrive.