The sexual assault campus climate survey published Feb. 24, revealed 60% of the 1,319 respondents believed Kansas State creates an environment where sexual assault seems common or normal.
To combat these numbers, Thomas Lane, vice president of student life, said the Culture of Respect Collective is helping spread awareness to make progressive change.
“I think what it underscores is that, not only do we as a nation have a lot of work to do in this area, but we as a campus have a lot of work to do in this area,” Lane said. “And so I think that is one of the reasons why I am really proud of the work that the Culture of Respect Collective is engaged in because it really is truly taking a community wide approach to a difficult issue. ”
Lane said the Culture of Respect Collective is a national program offered through NASPA, a higher education association.
“Basically they provide campuses a way to assess how are they doing in regards to response and prevention of sexual assault and relationship violence,” Lane said. “So they give you a list of things to take a look at and evaluate, then they come up with an individualized plan to say OK, if you work on these areas you should be improving response.”
Lane said K-State has completed the assessment and received their implementation plan based on the key focus areas: survivor support, clear policies, multi-tiered education, public disclosure, schoolwide mobilization and ongoing self-assessment.
“Underneath each of these pillars we have action steps that we are looking forward to as a collective in moving forward with to hopefully move the needle on this,” Lane said.
The Office of Institutional Equity is also making improvements to better serve the student body, Justin Frederick, interim director and Title XI coordinator, said.
“Since the survey was done, we have done a lot of outreach; so, presenting to classes, working with K-State first, working with the CARE [Center for Advocacy, Response and Education] office to do presentations,” Frederick said. “How can we be most visible and private? That is one the other balances. We want to make sure people have privacy here and so gearing our outreach to have components where if there are sensitive items, we are able to address those as well. I think continuing our outreach efforts there is really important.”
Frederick said they started presenting to classes, all K-State athletic teams, fraternities and sororities in the fall of 2021.
“There are a lot of times people do not know about an office until they need it. So if we receive information we reach out to every person involved and then they will know about our office and resources,” Frederick said. “But it continues to be that people are not aware of things they are not using, so what is really important for us is that we are getting into classrooms so that even if it is a person who is not needing that resource, they can tell a friend that this office is here.”
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The Office of Institutional Equity has made improvements to their intake process and form.
“We have redone the form since that survey and the process to help people better understand what we cover, what areas we address,” Frederick said. “I think an important thing to know is that the resources available in our office are available regardless if someone files a complaint or participates in the process. So, someone can file a complaint and not participate. Those resources are still available.”
The intake form is now more clear with reworded questions, Frederick said. The intake process is the biggest change — now there are meetings before decisions have to be made.
“We do not set a deadline or timelines with our process because we are aware that trauma impacts people, so now people have the ability to take a complaint and think about it,” Frederick said. “This is what we would consider driven by the complainant to move forward with that process at their comfort level.”
The process of following through with a complaint looks different for everyone, Frederick said.
“Some people want a full process, some people do not,” Frederick said. “The other challenge is the sensitivity to privacy. Sometimes there is just not a knowledge about that resolution so that those parties have their privacy. There are a number of reasons for those numbers, but it was important for those to be shared so that we could look at our processes so that we are better able to educate and address those concerns and will we continue because like anybody we want those numbers to improve.”
The initial meeting reviews the report, resources, safety and next steps, after which the complainant is given time to consider their desired path forward, Frederick said.
“We wanted to make sure we are giving people the information they need and also allowing them to have that in a step process,” Frederick said. “I am the person someone would primarily meet with on intake and then investigators handle anything beyond that.”
Stephanie Foran, assistant director of the CARE office, said the numbers from the survey were discouraging, but she is happy that the issues were brought to attention.
“Sexual violence is a problem on every college campus, however I would say that K-State is improving in that field especially with the Culture of Respect initiative,” Foran said. “One of our primary objectives is to create a flowchart of the reporting process, so hopefully, once we have a visual depiction of the reporting, it will make things easier for those who do report.”
Foran said the Collective is in its second year, and the goal is to make K-State as safe as possible for all students.
“I think it is just really important for us to make sure students do know about these resources,” Foran said. “I think working with the Culture of Respect Collective … that will help tremendously. Hopefully students will resubmit that survey and show that K-State is doing the work and is trying to make this a better place.”
- 62.5% of students who responded to this series of questions did not believe K-State is doing enough to prevent sexual assault.
- 60% of students who responded to this series of questions believed K-State creates an environment in which sexual misconduct seemed common and/or normal.
- 55.6% of students who responded to this series of questions believed that K-State makes it difficult to report an incident of sexual assault.
- 52.5% of students who responded to this series of questions believed K-State creates an environment in which sexual assault is more likely to occur.
- 72.9% of students who completed the survey did not understand what happens when a student reports a claim of sexual misconduct at K-State.
- 60.8% of students who completed the survey did not know where to go to make a report of sexual misconduct.
- Students who completed the survey ranged from 18 to 50+; 78.1% were between 18 and 25.
- 62.8% of students who completed the survey identified as a woman, 33.6% identified as a man, 3.6% of students who completed the survey identified as transgender, genderqueer/gender non conforming, or nonbinary.