March 1, 2024

Spring Break Preparedness

Juan Hernandez

Dear Goucher parents, families, and friends,

My name is Juan Hernandez and I serve as Goucher College’s assistant vice president for diversity, equity, inclusion, and Title IX. As we approach our much-anticipated spring break, March 16-24, we want to ensure that our students are well-prepared to make the most of their time off while prioritizing their health and safety. Whether they plan to travel or stay local, it’s crucial to take proactive steps to mitigate risks and promote responsible behavior. Here are some key points to keep in mind:

  1. Personal Safety: Remind your student to prioritize their personal safety at all times. This includes being aware of their surroundings, avoiding risky behaviors, and making informed decisions, especially when participating in recreational activities or nightlife.
  2. Alcohol and Substance Use: Spring break often involves social gatherings where alcohol and other substances may be present. Emphasize the importance of responsible drinking, knowing one’s limits, and avoiding peer pressure. Encourage open communication with your student about making safe choices and seeking help if needed.
  3. Stay Connected: While we encourage our students to enjoy their break and unwind, staying connected with family and friends is essential. Regular check-ins can provide reassurance and support, especially during unfamiliar or challenging situations.

Traveling to different countries provides an incredible opportunity for cultural exchange and personal growth. If they plan on traveling abroad, here are some tips for you to share to help them be culturally aware and respectful during their travels:

  1. Research Before You Go: Learn about the local customs, traditions, and etiquette of the country you’re visiting. This includes understanding basic phrases in the local language, greeting customs, and appropriate behavior in different situations.
  2. Respect Cultural Differences: Be open-minded and respectful of cultural differences you encounter. What may seem unusual or unfamiliar to you could be a deeply ingrained aspect of local culture. Avoid making assumptions or judgments based on your own cultural norms.
  3. Practice Politeness and Courtesy: Use polite language, gestures, and expressions of gratitude. Learn common phrases such as “please,” “thank you,” and “excuse me” in the local language. Demonstrating respect and courtesy goes a long way toward fostering positive interactions with locals.
  4. Try Local Cuisine: Sampling local cuisine is a great way to immerse yourself in the culture and culinary traditions of a country. Be adventurous and willing to try new foods, but also be mindful of any dietary restrictions or allergies.

By embracing cultural awareness and respect during their travels, our students will not only enhance their own experience but also contribute to positive interactions and mutual understanding between different cultures.

In addition to the proactive steps our students can take while studying abroad, I also wanted to share information with you about Goucher’s partnership with the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA).

In January 2021, Goucher College, via the Office of Title IX, applied for and was accepted into NASPA’s Culture of Respect Collective. The collective is an ambitious two-year program that brings together institutions of higher education that are dedicated to ending campus sexual violence and guides them through a rigorous process of self-assessment and targeted organizational change. Membership resulted in the development of an internal action plan focused on ending sexual violence on campus. Since then, the following are some accomplishments that we believe deserve to be celebrated as we have continued to rebuild the Office of Title IX:

  • The Office of Title IX now plays a greater role in the orientation and onboarding of our new students. Topics covered include consent, bystander intervention, prevention, and more.
  • We have expanded our pool of Title IX Advisors. Advisors help parties in a Title IX grievance process. They can be involved throughout the entire process, from initial intake to final appeals. They receive formal training on federal policy, the college’s Sexual Misconduct Policy, how to properly advise the party on the resolution process, and more.
  • This past year, with support from the Stephanie Bernstein ’70 Memorial Fund, the college recognized the 50th anniversary of Title IX by hosting Chris Linder, Ph.D., who works at the University of Utah as an associate professor of higher education, a special assistant to the president for violence prevention and education, and the director of the Center for Violence Prevention. Professor Linder hosted a closed workshop for the president and his cabinet; open workshops for faculty, staff, and students; and an opening keynote session.
  • The Office of Title IX has developed visual representations of the reporting process.

Goucher is committed to providing an inclusive and welcoming educational and working environment for all members of its community. Our faculty and staff are always available to support our students. Goucher also provides confidential resources—specific offices and people who are available to assist members of the college community in accessing support services and/or learning about their options. As a reminder, members of the community are always encouraged to report instances of misconduct to the Office of Title IX.

In closing, as we embark on spring break and reflect on our commitment to fostering a safe and inclusive campus community, I want to express my gratitude for your ongoing support and partnership. Together, we can continue to empower our students to make informed decisions, embrace cultural awareness, and contribute positively to the world around them. If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to reach out. Wishing you and your families a restful and rejuvenating break.

Warm regards,

Juan M. Hernandez, Ed.D.
Assistant Vice President for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Title IX