September 14, 2020

Dear MMA Community,

I am following up on my email of last Friday to you. The post referenced in my message is troubling to me, and it has brought about questions and distress from our students, faculty, and staff.

It is clear from the response from our community that there are concerns about trust in our systems that support our students who are victims of sexual harassment or assault. Despite having processes and procedures in place, our systems need to be re-examined and we must re-commit to our values, to living our honor code, and above all, respecting one another in all interactions. We are prepared to assist any victim who brings a complaint forward and they will be assisted and guided with respect, compassion, and care.

It was not my intent to discount an account of sexual assault. The account to which I referred does not match a reported complaint that we received, but that does not mean that there is not actionable information that could come forward to be pursued.

In my haste to respond, and to try to correct information, I think my concern for the situation came across as lacking in compassion for those who may have been victims of harassment or assault. I take responsibility for that, and I apologize to anyone who was offended by that message. While there is legitimate concern about the source of the information contained in the post that prompted my message, I recognize that is not where my concern should lie, but with the underlying concerns raised by many of you.

Importantly, I want to say that I hear your concerns about our campus climate. Harassment and assault should not be part of our culture. If a member of our community feels unsafe, they should have the support, the tools, and the information necessary to bring a complaint forward. Anyone who has been verbally or sexually assaulted should be assisted with support and care to pursue all of the options they have available.

We must work toward a shared vision for our campus culture. If we have flaws in our systems, we need to know what they are, and we need to be accountable for fixing them. We need to hear from current students about what they feel needs to change.

The Title IX Advisory Committee is seeking input now from students, faculty and staff through a series of listening sessions to address our campus culture. The first one is scheduled for this Wednesday, September 16 and additional forums are planned for later this month. If you have concerns or want to be involved, please attend one of the forums sponsored by the committee. I hope you will engage and share your ideas.

I recognize that the sensitivities of all of us are heightened as we reflect upon the greater societal imperative to address the flaws in our culture; flaws in the way in which we treat one another be it with respect to race or gender or sexuality. I am committed to the protection of the reputation of MMA, but I also acknowledge that MMA is subject to its own history and that while we strive to make this a better place, we must admit our failings and take ownership for our part in bringing about societal change. The specific account that surfaced, although difficult to address in substance due to its vagueness, provides us with the opportunity to reflect upon what our responsibilities are and ensure that our culture is purged of its flaws and that we treat each individual with respect and dignity. This is how I feel and what I wish to happen from this matter, and I thank you for holding me, and indeed all of us, accountable.


President Brennan

Dr. William J. Brennan
Maine Maritime Academy
Castine, Maine 04420