KU picks coordinator to tackle campus assaults

Posted at 4:14 PM, Jan 13, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-13 18:33:46-05

The University of Kansas has created a new program to protect its students from sexual assault — and chosen a new face to lead it. Jennifer Brockman, who will act as coordinator at the university's new Sexual Assault Prevention & Education Center, comes to KU from the University of Iowa, where she led that state's largest comprehensive sexual assault education program. She is the center's first employee.

As coordinator, Brockman will supervise a body that hosts programming related to sexual assault prevention and education, assesses past efforts and plans future programming.

“Addressing and eliminating sexual violence isn't something that happens in weeks or months or even years. We’re looking to play the long-term game,” Brockman said.

KU has fallen under scrutiny in recent years for its handling of sexual assault; when one student took her story of assault and institutional negligence to the Huffington Post in 2013, it became national news. The complaint spurred a federal investigation from the Department of Education. 

RELATED: Student frustration with University of Kansas over sexual assault reaches tipping point

From 2012  to 2015:

  • The University of Kansas had 43 violations of its sexual harassment policy.
  • 13 students were expelled
  • 29 students were disciplined through suspension, a warning, given probation or required to do education and training.  

Brockman said the numbers are too high, but she also said the high number is a positive.

“The fact that KU has this number of cases on campus speaks to an acknowledgment by the university that sexual assault is occurring on campus," she said. "And while it seems simplistic--that recognition and acknowledgement that there is a  problem--that's the first step in moving toward elimination."

The formation of the Sexual Assault Prevention & Education Center arrives as a direct consequence of the final report from the Chancellor's Task Force on Sexual Assault, which was submitted in 2015 as part of an internal effort to improve student safety.

In the report, task force members recommended 27 measures to reduce sexual assault on campus and educate students about safety and consent. KU has implemented 22 of these measures so far.

"I think KU has positioned itself in a very innovative way to tackle some of the hurdles related to sexual assault on campus," Brockman said in a press release. "The approach has been very intentional, and I hope to build upon these efforts in the future."