Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff:
Sexual assault on college campuses is a national problem, and one that has been highlighted this week here at the University of Kansas.
One of the promises we make to anyone who reports sexual assault is to never publicly discuss details of cases without permission, and I will uphold that promise for the case that sparked the recent discussions. At the same time, I do want to use this as an opportunity to discuss what we are doing to prevent and respond to sexual assault, and the responsibility that each member of our community has in this area.
The university’s administration, faculty, and staff have a responsibility to create an environment where everyone feels safe. If you feel unsafe, then I and the rest of the university leadership have a responsibility to do what we can to make changes so you do feel safe.
When we receive reports of sexual assault — whether from a survivor or from an individual with information about an assault — trained investigators, who collaborate with law enforcement, conduct an investigation. We take measures to protect and support the survivor during and after the investigation, and students have been suspended and expelled for sexual assault.
We have and will continue to meet with student leaders and a network of partners on- and off-campus on how we can improve our response, but we can’t do this alone.
We each have a responsibility to the fellow members of our community. For employees, that is a legal obligation. But for all of us, it is a moral obligation we have as human beings.
We cannot have police officers in every room or at every party, and you wouldn’t want us to. So we also expect you – each one of you – to look out for each other and to be willing to take action when you know something is wrong, or to report to the proper authorities so they can take action.
Because this is an educational institution, we will continue to educate all members of our community as we seek to prevent sexual assault. And while we can educate and inform, even dissuade and discipline, true understanding requires participation.
That’s what I’m asking for now: participation. Speak up and take action when necessary. Take part in the learning opportunities planned for Sexual Assault Awareness Week, September 15-19, and during the campaign on what constitutes consent that is also planned for this fall. And be part of the discussion on how we can better prevent and respond to sexual assault at KU. You can share your thoughts and proposals with me, or anonymously here.
My administration and I will continue to do all that we can to make this a community where every individual feels safe. I hope you will join us in this effort.