KU sexual violence task force recommends center for students to report assaults

The University of Kansas
The University of Kansas

The University of Kansas needs a central location where students can report or get information about sexual violence, according to the Chancellor’s Task Force on Sexual Assault formed earlier this school year.

The task force made its report public, including 27 recommendations related to how the university can improve the way it handles sexual violence on the campus. One was to establish an on-campus center for sexual assault prevention and education.

Task force leaders said the center for prevention and education is “by far” the biggest priority, because under its umbrella, other recommendations could be implemented, overseen and evaluated.

“What we found is that a lot of bits and pieces of efforts to deal with sexual violence are going on all over campus but none of it is coordinated,” said Angela Murphy, a graduate student and co-chair of the task force.

Centrally controlled resources “is a phenomenal idea,” said Morgan Said, a senior and outgoing student body president. “It is important for students to have that physical location they can walk into.”

The task force’s recommendation that all freshmen live on campus, however, has not been so widely supported.

“I think it is important to note that freshmen men (currently) can reside in fraternity houses, and about 20 percent of the student population is Greek,” Said said. “The Greek community wasn’t at the table when these recommendations were made.” Should the chancellor make freshmen live on campus, fraternity houses stand to lose residents.

On the other hand, Murphy said, research has shown that students who live off campus are more likely to become victims of sexual assault or perpetrators of sexual violence.

Other suggestions included in the report are to make it clear that the university can discipline for sexual violence even when it happens off campus as long as the victim is a KU student, and to improve data collection and evaluation by conducting a research-based campus-climate survey.

Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little said that “in the coming weeks, the university will examine these recommendations to determine how we can integrate them into our ongoing work on this issue.”

Gray-Little formed the task force last September to review what KU does to prevent and respond to sexual assaults.

“We said from the outset that our desire was to position KU as a leader in how higher education addresses this national problem,” Gray-Little said. “The task force’s efforts will help make that aspiration a reality.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

To reach Mará Rose Williams, call 816-234-4419 or send email to mdwilliams@kcstar.com.