Student leaders address lawsuits against university


K-State’s student leaders spoke against a university policy to not investigate off-campus allegations of rape at the Student Governing Association meeting Thursday.

Jessica Van Ranken, student body president and junior in political science, addressed the Student Senate regarding two lawsuits filed by students against the university on Wednesday. The lawsuits allege K-State denied responsibility to investigate accusations of rapes that occurred at two fraternity houses.

“We recognize that the university administration, with these incidents, were following university policy,” Van Ranken said. “But we also recognize that that university policy was clearly insufficient and is insufficient.”

Van Ranken said the university should change the policy of not investigating allegations of sexual assault that occur off-campus.

“We want to make it clear that we support a change in the university policy to adjudicate off-campus sexual misconduct,” Van Ranken said. “We understand that that policy change is in process right now, but it’s taken too long to make that policy change happen.”

In response to a question from Zach Lowry, senator and junior in political science, Van Ranken said she did not know exactly why the university had not already changed the policy, but said it was likely due to the “intensive legal nature” of the policy.

“That policy change needs to happen, and it needs to happen as soon as possible,” Van Ranken said.

In response to a question from Emma Barnett, junior in political science and international studies, Van Ranken said “fall is being strongly considered” for an implementation time for a new policy.

“We are deeply, deeply committed and compelled to seeing this policy change through and doing everything in our power as student leaders to make it so,” Trenton Kennedy, student body vice president and sophomore in entrepreneurship, said.

Kennedy also discussed the various resources available on campus such as the Center for Advocacy, Response and Education.

Van Ranken said she supports the hiring of another investigator by the Office of Institutional Equity to help investigate off-campus occurrences after a new policy is implemented.

“I want to make it very clear that (Kennedy) and I are in support of that policy change, and we’re in support of making sure that justice is served to all students who were affected by these incredibly tragic assaults and incidents,” Van Ranken said. “Those assaults and those incidents are not reflective or representative of the K-State community, the K-State family, that we are so proud to be a part of.”

Van Ranken also discussed her new position on the search committee for the next president of K-State, which was announced at the Board of Regents meeting Wednesday. She said that because the search is a closed process, she and the other two students on the committee will not be able to answer questions specific to the work of the committee.

Senators commended the K-State chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers “on being named the (Engineering Student Council) Most Improved Student Organization, ESC Outstanding Student Organization and the National Society of Black Engineers Small Chapter of the Year.”

Senate committee chairmen and members of the executive cabinet were also sworn in.

Jason Tidd graduated from Kansas State University's Miller School of Journalism and Mass Communication in May 2017. He was the spring 2017 editor-in-chief, fall 2016 news editor and spring 2016 assistant news editor. While at K-State, Jason played baritone in the Pride of Wildcat Land marching band.