- Associated Press - Thursday, October 16, 2014

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - The University of Kansas is working hard to improve its handling of sexual violence complaints while also creating an atmosphere that discourages sexual assaults, Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little said.

Gray-Little briefed the Kansas Board of Regents Wednesday on steps the school has taken to address the issue, which has become a source of controversy on the Lawrence campus, The Lawrence Journal-World reported (https://bit.ly/1sWNX7a ).

“The really critical thing we need to do is to decrease the occurrence and to change the culture of the campus in a way that makes this a less likely thing to happen,” Gray-Little said.

The University of Kansas, Kansas State University and Washburn University are among 85 universities nationwide being investigated by the U.S. Department of Education for their handling of sexual assault complaints. Some students, faculty and Lawrence residents have recently publicly criticized Kansas as being unsafe and a fraternity was placed is on interim suspension in early October after the school received reports of a sexual assault during a party.

In response to student concerns, the university established a Sexual Assault Task Force to make recommendations about further steps needed to improve the university’s handling of such complaints. It also is now enforcing a requirement that students complete a training program in sexual assault and harassment education before they can register for classes.

“We said that it’s required; however, there hasn’t been any enforcement of the requirement (in the past),” Gray-Little said.

The provost’s office is temporarily funding a full-time position for someone who will counsel victims, witnesses and others affected by sexual assault.

The Department of Education would not comment on the status of the investigations at Kansas, Kansas State and Washburn, the Journal-World reported.

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Information from: Lawrence (Kan.) Journal-World, https://www.ljworld.com

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