KU confident in its sexual assault investigations

Kansas University’s Title IX coordinator says she’s confident her office’s handling of sexual assault complaints will pass muster with a federal probe.

“I think our investigative work is really good,” said Jane McQueeny, executive director of KU’s office of Institutional Opportunity and Access. “I am not going to buy that our investigations aren’t thorough and detailed.”

It was reported on Monday that KU has been added to the list of 71 schools the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights is investigating. The list reflects schools where at least one student has filed a complaint under Title IX, a provision of a 1972 law against discrimination based on sex in federally funded education programs.

Beneath that umbrella, Institutional Opportunity and Access has investigated more than 30 complaints of sexual violence since the office was established two and a half years ago, McQueeny said. In 2012, from May — when McQueeny became the office’s first director — to December, there were 5. In all of 2013, there were 13. In 2014 from January to May, there were 13.

She said that in 2013, those sexual violence investigations accounted for 15 percent of the office’s 85 total complaints, which also include allegations of racial, religious and disability discrimination or harassment.

McQueeny said each sexual violence case can entail some 200 hours of investigation. Though McQueeny’s office collaborates with law enforcement, KU’s investigations are separate from criminal investigations, she said.

Institutional Opportunity and Access investigates complaints and makes disciplinary recommendations to KU’s Office of Student Affairs. The most severe consequence is expelling and banning the perpetrator from campus, McQueeny said.

Prior to joining KU, McQueeny was on the other side of similar federal investigations, working as a supervisory attorney with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights.

KU’s vice provost for Student Affairs, Tammara Durham, said Monday in a prepared statement that KU’s policies and practices regarding sexual violence follow federal guidelines. In addition to investigating complaints, she said, the university educates students and staff in an attempt to prevent sexual violence and offers resources to help those who are victims of it.

She said KU would provide full assistance as the federal agency conducts its review.