April 25, 2019 | 56° F

Rutgers community must work together to address issues of abuse

In the Tuesday, Sept. 23 issue of The Daily Targum, a column was published entitled, “U. must address issues of abuse in residence halls.” I strongly agree with the author’s sentiment that action must be taken to reduce and eliminate incidents of harassment, assault and abuse within our communities. Privacy laws and internal policies prevent me from discussing any details pertaining to individual student complaints, reports or conduct information. I wanted to take a moment and share some information with you regarding the various and multiple layers of support available to our students.

Residence Life professional staff are available to respond to crises or incidents in the residence halls on a year-round, round-the-clock basis. Our staff responds to any and all of the allegations mentioned in this incident — whether the University is open or closed, at 2 p.m. or 2 a.m.

Almost all of the allegations identified within this column represent possible law violations. Everyone should be aware that the Rutgers University Police Department is also available to respond to these incidents 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. These allegations are also violations of the Code of Student Conduct. Students can report behavior to the Office of Student Conduct using their online reporting form. Allegations can be made anonymously.

In addition to Residence Life staff and RUPD, the Office of Violence Prevention and Victim Assistance has licensed counselors available on the same 24/7 basis. The dean of Students Office and Counseling, Alcohol (and Other Drugs Assistance Programs) & Psychiatric Services also provide support to students.

The author strikes upon another chord that I believe is critically important for reducing and eliminating these incidents on our campus, and that is the role of the community.

The campus community includes staff and faculty as well as the more than 15,000 students residing on campus, and the more than 40,000 students taking classes in New Brunswick. We hope to encourage all our students to join us in the effort to assume a greater responsibility for exercising an ethic of care in our interactions with one another: care enough not to treat others this way, care enough to speak up on behalf of others who you see being subjected to inappropriate behaviors, care enough to contact those resources that can support victims in their time of need.

With my response, I hope to empower those who witness these behaviors to stand up and find your voice — whether to confront the behaviors directly or to assist those in need by contacting those in the University who can help.

Michael Stillwagon is director of Residence Life at Rutgers University-New Brunswick.

Michael Stillwagon

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