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Beartown

Friday, September 21, 2018

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Dear Tulane Community:

Each summer all members of the incoming class at Tulane are assigned a common book to read. The themes of this book are discussed during new student orientation, at a keynote lecture and in classes and programming throughout the school year.

This year's Reading Project selection, the best-selling novel Beartown, is particularly relevant to the conversation our campus is now engaged in regarding sexual violence and the underlying cultural challenges that make it possible.

Beartown examines a sexual assault survivor who is met with indifference, disbelief and open hostility in her community. Whether you are a first-year student, a graduating senior, a faculty or staff member, I urge you to read Beartown and attend the 2018 Kylene and Bradley Beers Reading Project lecture, Football to Feminism and the Blind Spot of Masculinity, which is scheduled to take place at 5 p.m., Sept. 25 in McAlister Auditorium.

The keynote speaker, former NFL quarterback and commentator Don McPherson, uses the power and appeal of sports to address complex social justice issues. As a national leader and advocate for the prevention of sexual and domestic violence, he has twice testified before Congress and worked closely with the departments of defense and education on issues of sexual violence in schools and the military.

It is my hope that Don's lecture will inform and inspire the Tulane community as we implement new programs and activities to improve sexual violence prevention, response and care. Our efforts include hiring new health professionals and educators focused on prevention, introducing new courses on ending sexual assault, creating guides for parents and professors to encourage discussions about sexual assault and convening coalitions of students, faculty, staff and university leaders to plan future prevention strategies.

The most important aspect of making the change we all seek is the power we have as individuals. At Tulane, we are ALL involved. We are ALL instrumental. We are ALL IN to stop sexual assault and work towards the day when books such as Beartown are strictly works of fiction.

You can learn more about the university's efforts and get involved at allin.tulane.edu.

Signature of Mike Fitts