Jim Borsig, President

Dear W Community,

As my third year as President of The W draws to a close, I have chosen Founder's Day as an opportune time to talk about our many accomplishments and the good work underway to ensure every member of our University family is valued and respected as we strive to build a safe, ethical community.

 

As a University, we have much to celebrate. Our students are graduating in record numbers and the number of full-time students enrolled this fall is the highest in three decades. This semester saw an increase in both the number of freshmen and new transfer students, as well as more students living on campus. Online enrollment and non-traditional student enrollment continue to grow.

Today I am writing you to ask you to become involved in The W's efforts to eliminate sexual assault, harassment, stalking and domestic violence; hazing and bullying; as well as for you to join in celebrating diversity and inclusion on our campus. Since 1884 our students have been leaders, courageously inspiring the University to reach its promise. I am proud of our students' leadership on these important issues.

Earlier this year The W completed an assessment of our existing policies and programs regarding sexual assault, harassment, and domestic violence. This good work led to policy revisions incorporating best practices and reflecting the University's responsibility to our growing number of online and adult students. This fall Sirena Cantrell (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.), Dean of Students, was named as the university's new Title IX coordinator. You can find The W's Sexual Misconduct Policy here: http://web3.muw.edu/titleix/sexualmisconductpolicy.

I would like to thank Sade Meeks, our Student Government Association (SGA) president, and the SGA for spearheading The W's participation in the national It's On Us awareness campaign to enhance campus safety and prevent sexual assault. SGA and University Relations jointly produced The W's campaign video. I encourage you to join with us and take the It's On Us pledge here: http://itsonus.org/.

During my first year, responding to an unacceptable number of hazing allegations, I asked the Division of Student Affairs to launch an educational process to acquaint our students with the University's long-standing policies.Over the past two years our students have been encouraged to think of ways to maintain cherished traditions while fostering an environment of inclusion and respect. You can find The W's Hazing Policy here: http://web3.muw.edu/images/sa/studentlife/forms/2014-2015_student_handbook.pdf. You can find additional information on hazing prevention here: http://hazingprevention.org/ and here: http://www.stophazing.org/

As fall semester began, I spoke to a workshop attended by members of our social organizations as they worked through scenarios to learn to recognize hazing. Our students challenged each other to think critically about how hazing endangers and diminishes our University community. As I watched this teachable moment unfold, I was very proud of our students' commitment to the shared values of our University community.

The success of this approach can now be measured. Since this effort began, we have seen resurgence in membership in our social organizations. In the past three years bids extended in formal recruitment have increased more than 30%, and I am pleased to report our social organizations are stronger today. In addition to the good work of our students, I am grateful for the support of our faculty and staff.  

One of Mississippi's strengths is the diversity of its people, and our university community reflects this diversity. Our fall enrollment continues to mirror our state, and I'm pleased to report the number of international students continues to grow, and male students increased by 1% for the second consecutive year. I am particularly pleased 37% of our student body is over the age of 25; these students, once considered "non-traditional" (primarily older, attending part-time, financially independent), are now the majority of students enrolled in postsecondary institutions in the United States.

The W remains committed to embracing diversity of thought, cultural background, experience, and identity to foster an inclusive and intellectually enriched university community. We strive to achieve this goal through student enrollment and graduation, employment, contracting, our curricular and co-curricular programming, as well as our advisory boards and commissions. In October I named Karen Clay, University General Counsel, (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) to serve in the role of chief diversity officer. You can find The W's Non-Discrimination Policy here: http://web3.muw.edu/disclosures/non-discrimination.

I am calling on every member of the Long Blue Line to be willing to act. I ask you to be willing to intervene and use your power to stop behavior that is wrong or dangerous and to be willing to report it. Sexual assault, harassment, stalking, and domestic abuse, as well as hazing and bullying, diminish each of us; and, whenever and wherever this occurs, our entire university community suffers. You can find The W's How to Report options here: http://web3.muw.edu/reporting.

Our University remains strong and our future bright. Your unwavering support of our students, faculty, and staff encourages all of us.

Until the next time,

Jim Borsig, Ph.D.
President