Dear editors,

As the Director of Interpersonal Violence Prevention, Education, and Advocacy at Goshen College, I find myself grappling with many thoughts and questions in light of the recent events involving Richard Brunson over the past week and a half.

First, I commend Goshen College for its swift and thorough investigation, as well as its decisive action in response to the situation. I also affirm the institution’s commitment to reevaluating our systems to enhance our prevention and response capabilities moving forward, as stated in the email from HR on Monday.

It is crucial, however, for Goshen College to recognize the broader impact of these events on our entire community. Particularly noteworthy is the fact that Indiana’s childhood sexual abuse rates are twice the national average, and with 68% of our student body hailing from Indiana, it is statistically likely that many members of our community may be survivors of such abuse. Consequently, the repercussions of this situation extend far beyond those directly involved when considering feelings of trust and safety at GC. 

In terms of concrete steps to fortify our prevention and response measures, I believe Goshen College must go beyond rhetoric and take substantive action. Below are some key actions that I believe are essential in addressing the current situation and preventing future harm:

Conducting an audit of our current pre-employment screening protocols to identify any vulnerabilities or gaps.

Engaging external experts to review our hiring protocols and ensure alignment with the latest best practices.

Providing additional trauma-informed support options for Music Center students and faculty, among others, beyond our current on-campus counselors. 

Implementing comprehensive training or professional development programs on sexual harassment for Cabinet members and HR personnel, as well as additional training requirements for all faculty and staff.

New employees at GC currently only receive 15 minutes during new employee orientation to learn about Title IX, discrimination, and harassment; Enhanced training opportunities during the onboarding of new employees is essential to reinforce campus expectations.

Ensuring transparent communication of future action steps and commitments with students, faculty and staff as we strive to strengthen our prevention and response processes.

I care deeply about Goshen College and the people here, and I want to ensure that we are all doing everything in our power to make this community safer. Progress takes time and requires ongoing efforts; we cannot afford for these commitments to fall by the wayside as time passes and attention to this situation wanes. We can and must do better.

Emily Hahn is the program director for sexual assault prevention education and advocacy at Goshen College.