Presidential Message /Dear Students: Regarding the Media coverage concerning a faculty member of Sophia University

November 10, 2021
Yoshiaki Terumichi
President of Sophia University

Dear Students,

Today I am writing about the recent media coverage that a former student of Sophia University has taken legal action against a faculty member of the university regarding the sexual harassment that she had experienced as a student and onwards. Given the submission of a petition to the university by an extracurricular group regarding the university’s response to the incident, as well as other comments and inquiries, I would like to take the opportunity to explain how we have been dealing with the matter.

1. Regarding the comment made by the university regarding certain media coverage
The university initially responded to inquiries from certain new agencies that it would “refrain from commenting on personal matters” with the intent that it was difficult for the university to make a comment that could affect the court proceedings of a pending civil case between a former student and a Sophia University faculty member. The university had already started to take the necessary measures on this matter, but I deeply regret that we misled you to think that the university was abandoning its responsibilities and thus left many students with a sense of insecureness and distrust. I would first like to extend my apologies for this.

2. Sophia University’s approach to harassment of students
Sophia University will not tolerate any harassment of students, when such misconduct by a faculty member has been recognized. We have unfortunately had to deal with harassment complaints from students on other occasions in the past. For every complaint, we have carried out investigations by an Investigation Committee with external experts and have taken the necessary measures, including disciplinary action.

This incident is no exception. As announced on our official website on September 21, we are committed to conducting a fair and just investigation of the facts and take strict measures against any misconduct order to maintain an academic environment where students can learn in comfort. As the current case is still under investigation, we cannot make any further comments based on prejudgment. We will continue to firmly address this matter.

3. Sophia University’s efforts to create a “safe and secure” campus
In addition, we will urgently engage in discussions on how we can further our efforts to prevent harassment and on establishing a consultation system designed in a way that students feel comfortable making consultations. With a view to creating a safe, secure and inclusive campus where diversity of people can enjoy the benefits of a rich student life we have promoted anti-harassment measures, including establishing an external consultation center, enhancing guidance on harassment, and enhancing training programs for faculty and staff members. We will conduct questionnaire surveys to gain a firm grasp of the current situation and reorganize channels for student consultation. As President of Sophia University, I am determined to take the initiative in pursuing these measures, listening carefully to the voices of our students, faculty and staff. Your comments and suggestions are more than welcome.

Finally, should you or your friend ever be challenged with or suffer from harassment, please remember that you are not alone, and contact a Harassment Consultant or the external consultation center. Please seek help in the way that you find most comfortable. You can consult with a counsellor, doctor or nurse at the Counselling Center or Health Center as well.

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