In past year, KU has created six new jobs to confront the issue of sexual assault on campus
Positions located at Watkins, IOA and newly created Sexual Assault Prevention and Education Center
In the past year, Kansas University has created at least six new staff positions to deal specifically with the issue of sexual violence on campus.
The budget for the new positions totals more than $250,000. Several of the new position-holders are already working at the university, and the rest are expected to be hired later this school year.
Reports of sexual violence at KU spiked sharply in 2014.
And in July 2014, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights opened an investigation into KU’s handling of sexual violence complaints, which has yet to be concluded. KU is now one of 145 postsecondary institutions nationwide with similar investigations open, according to the USDE’s most recent list.
“As we’ve seen more attention on this subject nationally, of course more students have been coming forward to report,” university spokeswoman Erinn Barcomb-Peterson said. “That’s always a good thing to be able to help more students, but of course that also means we need more resources.”
During the 2014-15 school year, the KU Sexual Assault Task Force was charged with looking at what KU was doing regarding sexual violence and suggesting ways to do better going forward, and some of the new positions stem from task force recommendations, Barcomb-Peterson said.
Here are the new positions, grouped under the university office that houses them.
Watkins Health Services
• CARE coordinator
KU created the CARE (Campus Assistance, Resource and Education) Coordinator job in fall 2014 on a temporary basis and decided to make it permanent, though the position has moved from the Emily Taylor Center for Women and Gender Equity to Watkins Health Services.
It’s also changing to a confidential instead of a mandated reporter position — something Watkins and students believe is important, said Dr. Douglas Dechairo, Watkins Health Services director and chief of staff.
The CARE Coordinator is tasked with providing support and information about medical, psychological, legal and university resources to victims of sexual violence or accused perpetrators. Previously the CARE Coordinator was mandated to report incidents of sexual assault to university officials, Dechairo said; now the CARE Coordinator must obtain “informed consent” from the student before sharing information.
“They (students) feel like having it as a confidential reporter brings more security,” he said. “That information that they don’t want disseminated through the university can stay within these walls, so to speak.”
Watkins doctors, nurses and health care providers are all confidential reporters, Dechairo said, while KU faculty members, administrators and most staffers are mandated to tell university officials if students confide in them that they’ve been sexually assaulted.
The CARE Coordinator’s job is similar to services provided countywide by the Sexual Trauma and Abuse Care Center (formerly GaDuGi Safecenter), Dechairo said. However, he said it’s helpful for students to have in-house services, not unlike the on-campus health care provided by Watkins.
The first CARE Coordinator, Sarah Jane Russell, resigned in August to work in the private sector, Dechairo said. He said the new CARE Coordinator, Merrill Evans, a licensed clinical social worker who previously worked at Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center, is scheduled to start Tuesday. Dechairo said the salary is budgeted at $43,000.
Office of Institutional Opportunity and Access
• Interim measures coordinator
In August, KU added an interim measures coordinator to the Office of Institutional Opportunity and Access staff and hired Michael McRill, according to Barcomb-Peterson.
Interim measures are steps the university would take to ensure a student feels safe and has access to his or her education while an investigation is pending. One example might be arranging to change a woman’s class schedule if she was previously enrolled in a course with a man accused of assaulting her.
Barcomb-Peterson said the position is grant-funded and that the salary range is $30,000 to $50,000.
In fall 2014, the office hired two additional Title IX investigators — charged with investigating sexual violence complaints, as well as other accusations of discrimination on campus. One investigator position was replaced with the interim measures coordinator position. The other position was temporary and has since expired, Barcomb-Peterson said.
Currently the office has positions for a director, two Title IX investigators, the interim measures coordinator and an administrative assistant, according to its online staff list.
Jane McQueeny, who directed the office since it was created in 2012, resigned just more than a week ago. Title IX investigator Joshua Jones is serving as interim director.
Sexual Assault Prevention and Education Center
• Educator 1 (men’s issues and bystander empowerment)
• Educator 2 (sexual violence and healthy relationships)
• Administrative assistant
Assistant vice provost for student affairs Jane Tuttle, who will oversee the new center, said it will be like an umbrella.
“We will be the entryway for sexual assault, sexual violence prevention,” Tuttle said. “I believe it takes an entire campus to stop sexual violence … but sometimes the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing.”
Tuttle said the center plans regular meetings with people and units including the following: Watkins CARE Coordinator, KU Office of Institutional Opportunity and Access, Watkins Health Education Resource Office, KU Student Housing, KU Office of Public Safety, KU Student Involvement and Leadership Center, KU Center for Sexuality and Gender Diversity, Student Senate, Sexual Trauma and Abuse Care Center and Willow Domestic Violence Center.
Quarterly meetings are planned with KU Athletics, as well as the departments of social welfare and women and gender studies, to ensure the center is using the most up-to-date research in its approaches, Tuttle said.
KU is currently advertising and hopes to hire a center director before the end of this semester, Tuttle said. Open presentations by candidates are scheduled the week of Nov. 30. The other three hires will follow.
The initial budget for the office is $200,000.