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Archive for Friday, September 17, 1993

S LAX ATTENTION BRINGS FORMATION OF NEW GROUP

September 17, 1993

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An advocacy group for Kansas University students who file sexual harassment and other complaints with the university is being formed.

John Altevogt, a graduate student and member of University Council, said at the council's meeting Thursday that he helped form the student grievance advocacy group.

The group was needed, he said, because the new consensual relations policy enacted this semester by KU officials lacks adequate measures to protect students.

"I'm done talking," said Altevogt, who blasted the administration last week on the same issue during a Student Senate meeting. "We're going to do something about advocacy. As our mighty chancellor has demonstrated, you don't talk when you're going to act."

The policy prohibits most student-faculty romantic relationships. Administrators have said grievance procedures should be revised, but they made no specific changes in the policy.

Altevogt criticized the administration for a lack of student advocacy in 1991, when students came forward with sexual harassment allegations that eventually led to the dismissal of Emil Tonkovich, a tenured law professor.

The American Civil Liberties Union in 1991 went public with stories from four women who accused Tonkovich of inappropriate actions. The women earlier had filed complaints with KU, but they said little or no action was taken at the university.

"As long as this university continues its de facto policy of a not-so-benign neglect toward student grievances, the ghost of Emil Tonkovich will continue to prowl," Altevogt said.

The consensual relations policy, he said, "will do little to curb abuses of power whether they be of a sexual, or a non-sexual nature."

Along with Altevogt, organizers of the group are Jeff Russell, chair of the Student Senate's Student Rights Committee, and Ben Schwartz, representative for Associated Students of Kansas.

"The goals of the advocacy group are to provide easy access to grievance procedures for all students, protect the reputation of the accused from frivolous charges, assuring that both sides receive due process, and provide conflict resolution at the lowest possible level of the grievance procedure," Altevogt said.

A mailing address for the group has been established: Student Advocacy, P.O. Box 1375, Lawrence, 66044-8375.

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