Thursday, September 4, 2014

University Daily Kansan: Acting student body president Emma Halling criticizes sexual assault procedure

Acting student body president Emma Halling criticizes sexual assault procedure

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Posted: Thursday, September 4, 2014 12:52 am | Updated: 9:31 am, Thu Sep 4, 2014.
Emma Halling, acting student body president presented a resolution to the Student Senate Rights Committee that condemns the University’s handling of sexual assault cases on campus.
Halling, a senior from Elkhart, Ind., who referred to the University’s actions as absolutely unacceptable, is the first person affiliated with the University to speak out against current policies in place. She said that no one from the administration has contacted her since the Huffington Post article was published on Sept. 2.
“When the University of Kansas doesn’t expel, doesn’t suspend and doesn’t even submit to community service someone who is an admitted rapist, we are absolutely not fulfilling our obligation to eliminate a hostile environment for our students,” Halling said.
The resolution included a call to action for the University to improve the way it handles sexual assault cases. Suggestions include hiring a victim advocate for those going through the hearing process, having mandatory sexual assault training for students and a reexamination of current policies.
“The system we have in place is failing our students,” Halling said.
Halling said the University is technically in compliance with federal sexual assault laws established by Title IX, but that isn’t enough.
“I don’t care about that right now,” Halling said. “I care about the well-being of our female students, and national standards be damned, they are not being well served.”
Halling said there is a large issue with underreporting sexual assault on campus and that issues with the hearing and reporting process aren’t always brought to light.
“After victims go through this process and are so ill-served by it, they don’t want to talk about it anymore,” Halling said.
Halling’s sentiments were shared by many within the Student Rights committee.
“We need to move forward as a University and we need to listen to the student voice,” Student Senate Graduate Affairs Director Angela Murphy said.
Mitchell Cota, a senior from Leawood and acting chief of staff, said that it’s crucial for Senate to show the administration and students that they are taking this seriously.
“I think that it’s important that Student Senate takes a stance when it comes to protecting student’s rights and their safety,” Cota said.
— Edited by Hannah Barling