Kansas University officials said today that a special committee of campus leaders and students will be formed to work on strengthening KU's sexual harassment procedures.
Del Shankel, executive vice chancellor, will work with KU governance to create the committee, which will be instructed to hold public hearings on all questions related to sexual harassment.
The issue of sexual harassment has come under greater scrutiny on the national level since U.S. Senate confirmation hearings began for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. The hearings included allegations of sexual harassment by Anita Hill, a former government aide to Thomas.
On the campus level, complaints of sexual harassment were raised this fall by two current and two former KU law students. Three complaints were resolved.
HOWEVER, one of the two faculty members at whom the sexual harassment allegations were aimed is appealing the university administration's decision to a faculty committee.
Shankel and Chancellor Gene Budig issued a statement that outlined the goals of the committee and the philosophical framework upon which the committee will be built.
The committee is expected to finish its work by next summer, they said.
"What KU needs are strengthened, more precise definitions of unacceptable conduct and especially, streamlined procedures that will assure prompt and fair due process," the statement said.
"Any future institutional procedures must respect individual rights while recognizing the need for public access to relevant information.
"We believe that in developing a credible policy we must consider the complications that can arise if faculty members enter into amorous relationships with students.''
BUDIG AND Shankel said the university community agrees that sexual harassment in any form is unacceptable and will not be tolerated on campus.
Many universities are renewing debate about sexual harassment and reconsidering policies designed to address the issue, according to the statement.
"We would ask that this committee hold open hearings, encouraging representative faculty, staff and student participation," the statement said.
"Other universities should be consulted in the process. Perhaps we can learn from them. Expert witnesses should be consulted. Perhaps we can learn from them. The end result must be a campus-generated and accepted document."