Despite KU’s efforts, sexual assault persists

08/11/2014 7:47 AM

08/11/2014 11:53 AM

A confidential University of Kansas survey shows that one in 10 students say they have been victims of sexual harassment, including sexual assault, but many never report it.

About 30 reported incidents over a two-year span involved men raping or sexually assaulting woman who were drunk, said Jane McQueeny, executive director of the Office of Institutional Opportunity and Access. The university established the office, which investigates reported sexual assaults, about two-and-a-half years ago, the Lawrence Journal-World reported.

McQueeny said the university looks into all sexual assault complaints, conducts confidential surveys and provides many ways to report sexual assault claims, including online, by fax, by mail or by phone. The school’s procedures appear to exceed federal requirements.

The office’s 60-day investigations are separate from criminal investigations, McQueeny said, and they rely on sources that include victim and witness interviews, social media activity and medical records.

The office can rearrange a victim’s class schedule and move a suspect to a different residence hall. It can also place any student accused of sexual assault on disciplinary probation when a complaint is filed. If the person is found guilty, the university can ban him or her from campus.

The legal process takes longer and can often be more intimidating for victims.

“That, I think, is why we probably have a lot of people who come talk to us,” McQueeny said.

According to a 2012 Centers for Disease Control report, nearly 20 percent of undergraduate female students have been victims of sexual assault or attempted sexual assault.

In the KU survey, 11 percent of students said in a survey by McQueeny’s office that they had been victims and 2 percent said they reported what happened to them to the office. About 900 graduate and undergraduate men and women responded to the survey.

Before students begin classes this fall, the university is requiring them to watch an online video that explains what sexual assault is and where to receive help if attacked. Students are also required to take a quiz at the end of the video.

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