The Student Governing Association called on the university administration to change its policy on not investigating allegations of sexual assault that occur off campus.
A resolution passed unanimously at SGA’s meeting Thursday that “encourages K-State administration to immediately change this policy to allow the Office of Institutional Equity to conduct thorough investigations of sexual violence that occur off campus.”
The resolution also called for administration to provide to the student body an expected date of implementation for a policy change.
“It’s a really big deal, and us standing as a body together and saying that we support a policy change, it seems like just a little piece of paper, but it means a lot, and it means a lot to administration and it’s going to be a bold statement,” Emma Barnett, Center for Advocacy, Response and Education advocate and junior in political science and international studies, said.
The action by SGA comes a week after two K-State students filed separate lawsuits against the university, alleging K-State did not investigate their rapes at off campus fraternity houses.
“This is the first time that I’ve been at K-State that I have felt disappointed in K-State, and that is a really hard feeling to have, because I don’t feel like we’re treating this like a family,” Barnett said.
The resolution also called for the creation of a joint SGA and university administration task force to address sexual violence at the university and for administration to detail other steps that will be taken to combat sexual violence at K-State.
Zach Lowry, president of the Interfraternity Council and junior in political science, said the Interfraternity Council has been trying to work with university administration over the past two years to get the policy changed, but has been unsuccessful.
“We’re students here, and we call ourselves ‘family,’ and we hold up banners at football games that say that, so I think it’s time to start doing that,” Lowry said.
The resolution states that, according to the Office of Civil Rights, K-State’s current policy does not fully meet Title IX requirements.
“I think without the teeth or the phrasing in this resolution, administration’s not going to wake up, because they haven’t,” Cat Gutman, freshman in architecture, said.
Usually, a resolution is introduced one week and voted on the next, but the resolution was “special ordered” through the Senate because this was the last meeting of the semester.
“This is a timely issue because this is something affecting our university right now,” Stephen Kucera, speaker pro tempore and senior in music performance and accounting, said. “This is something our administration’s considering to do, whether or not they’re going to make that policy change. Personally, I think it’s important to take the extra 15, 30 or however many minutes tonight just to make sure that we make sure that our voices representing students are heard. Hopefully this will encourage administration to move forward to instituting this change or a change similar to it by the start of next semester.”
Earlier in the meeting and prior to debating the resolution, Barnett detailed the current university policy as well as federal guidelines in a presentation. No university administrators were present to provide their interpretation of the policy.
Barnett said one of the holdups to changing the policy is the university’s Office of General Counsel.
“General Counsel is saying that we are not liable for anything that happens off campus, which is fair in a lawyers’ sense,” Barnett said. “Think about their main priority is to protect K-State. But K-State’s main priority is to protect students, so there’s kind of some competing values.”
Jessica Van Ranken, student body president and junior in political science, said she and other student leaders will meet with university administration today to discuss a potential change in the policy.
“We are really appreciative that administration here at K-State really listens to students and has the desire to involve student voices in that conversation,” Van Ranken said.
Trenton Kennedy, student body vice president and sophomore in entrepreneurship, said a task force meeting will be held Sunday at 9 p.m. in room 203 in the K-State Student Union to discuss how to move forward as a student body.
John Currie, athletic director, addressed unity between Athletics and the student body, citing head football coach Bill Snyder’s goal No. 3 of unity.
“The value of our students and our position in the stadiums is not the money,” Currie said. “The value is the fact that we’re different from anybody in the country because we have student sections on the sideline.”
Currie said having students in those seats is important for the atmosphere of games.
“Be in those seats because that is what drives the atmosphere of our stadiums and arenas,” Currie said. “It differentiates us from everybody else. And when we talk about it with recruiting, we use it ‘this is an example.’ We talk about it with recruiting parents, ‘this is an example of K-State is a student-centered university. We put our students in the very bests seats.'”
Currie also said if anyone is interested in touring the new corner of Bill Snyder Family Stadium, which will be the home of the Pride of Wildcat Land marching band, to call Athletics.
He also said students should be willing to reach out to him.
“Please don’t hesitate to reach out,” Currie said. “Sometimes we find that we assume that people see us as accessible and I can email that guy or call that guy or whatever. But in this day and age what we also find is reporters sometimes tend to just write things without even asking questions about things because people just want to do more op-ed than you want to do investigation. Please don’t ever hesitate to ask if you want us to speak to your student groups or whatever. We are happy to do that.”
New senators were also sworn in.
Jeffery Bogner, sophomore in architectural engineering, and Stephen Bartels, freshman in chemical engineering, will represent the College of Engineering.
Robert Sharp, junior in political science, will represent the College of Arts and Sciences.
Matthew Wiese, freshman in business managment, will represent the College of Business Administration.
Brianna Brenneman, junior in kinesiology, will represent the College of Human Ecology.
Brett Montague, first year veterinary medicine student, will represent the College of Veterinary Medicine.