Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,
During the past week, we have engaged as a community in an ongoing dialogue about sexual assault and how we can address this difficult issue together. Some of you have shared heartbreaking stories of your own sexual assault, while others have made recommendations about actions we can take to improve our prevention and response efforts.
Our university has a responsibility to create an environment where every member of our community feels safe. And as chancellor, that responsibility ultimately is mine.
After consulting with student leaders and members of our community, I am taking several steps to help our university develop more effective solutions for preventing and responding to sexual assault.
First, I have directed Provost Vitter to take immediate steps to ensure that the mandatory sexual assault training required of all students, faculty, and staff has sanctions for non-completion that are at least as severe as those that are in place for our compulsory alcohol training, AlcoholEdu.
Second, I am creating a campus-wide sexual assault task force comprised of students, faculty, and staff to review our current policies, practices, and sanctions, and to provide recommendations on how they can be improved. This task force will be co-chaired by Angela Murphy, a student in the Department of English, and Alesha Doan, chair of the Department of Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies and associate professor of political science.
I will charge this group with the following tasks:
- Solicit input and feedback from individuals who have participated in the sexual assault and harassment investigation and resolution process, and provide recommendations on how this process can be improved;
- Examine current prevention practices and make concrete recommendations for improvements to make them more effective and meaningful;
- Evaluate the Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities, and make recommendations for how it can be revised and improved; and
- Determine how best to support and advocate for student victims of crime.
Third, with regard to some students’ calls for an investigation of current practices, this already is being done in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights. We have provided OCR copies of university policies and procedures. We are working with that office to evaluate these policies and procedures, and will ask it to make recommendations to us.
Finally, as part of Sexual Assault Awareness Week, I invite you to join me for a panel discussion to continue our conversation on how we work together as a community to address this national problem. The event will be held next Thursday, September 18, from 4:30 to 6:00 p.m. in The Commons and is sponsored by my office in conjunction with the Office of the Provost. Please also continue to share your thoughts on how we continue to advance our efforts and enhance prevention on campus.
I want to thank each of you for your engagement and continued dialogue. Every member of the KU community has an obligation to help shape the climate in which we work and study. I look forward to us all working together as we make sure that KU is a safe place for every member of our community. A single instance of sexual assault is one too many.