Saying that recent episodes of sexual violence and misconduct “strike at the heart of the learning community we aspire to be and defy the core values that guide our strategic vision,” Virginia Tech President Tim Sands has established the Sexual Violence Culture and Climate Work Group to advance Virginia Tech’s commitment to end sexual violence and enhance the university’s preventative programming.

Sands announced the 21-member group Wednesday. Katie Polidoro, the Title IX coordinator at the university, will chair the group, which includes a diverse assembly of stakeholders from numerous departments within the university.

The group will initially focus on the university’s undergraduate student population, with the potential to include graduate students, faculty, and staff in the future.

The group members are:

  • Katie Polidoro, Title IX Coordinator, (Chair)
  • Mac Babb, Chief, Virginia Tech Police Department
  • Bridget Brugger-McSorley, Senior Associate Athletic Director for Strategic Affairs
  • Kendrah Cline, Lieutenant, Virginia Tech Police Department
  • Alicia Cohen, Associate Director, Diversity Education and Training
  • Amy Epperley, Director, Hokie Wellness
  • Paolo Fermin, Undergraduate Student Representative to the Board of Visitors
  • Monika Gibson, Assistant Dean, Graduate School
  • Sean Grube, Director, Housing and Residence Life
  • Byron Hughes, Dean of Students
  • Caroline Lohr, Undergraduate Student Senate President
  • Gabby McCollum, Interim Director, New Student and Family Programs
  • Ennis McCrery, Director, Student Conduct
  • Rohsaan Settle, Director, Fraternity and Sorority Life
  • Jill Sible, Associate Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education
  • Christine Smith, Co-Director, Women’s Center
  • Heather Wagoner, Director, Student Engagement and Campus Life
  • Robert Weiss, Faculty Senate President
  • Henry Yampolsky, Assistant Director, Equity and Accessibility
  • Kelly Oaks, Associate Vice President for Equity and Accessibility (Advisor)
  • Lisa J. Wilkes, Vice President for Strategic Initiatives and Special Assistant to the President (Advisor)

“It has been deeply upsetting to finally come together again as a campus community and have multiple reports of sexual violence,” Sands said. “I share the frustration and concern for survivors that has been expressed by our students as this unacceptable conduct continues. My leadership team and I are committed to a university-wide response aimed at meaningful outcomes and accountability.”

Sands expressed appreciation for the many students who have voiced concern, including those who participated in a United Feminist Movement demonstration held in front of Burruss Hall on Sept 28.

“We appreciate their ongoing resolve and determination, and they will not be alone,” Sands said. “We share their hope, and the conviction that change must occur for our university to live up to the ideals we affirm and achieve its true potential.”

Virginia Tech currently has multiple sexual assault prevention efforts taking place throughout the academic year through its Title IX office, the Women’s Center, and the Virginia Tech Police Department, as outlined in this Sept. 23 story. In addition, the university offers multiple avenues for support for victims of sexual violence, also outlined in that story.

The work group’s inaugural meeting will take place this month.

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