This summer we are preparing for a new fall semester – one for which we are excited for positive and exciting changes and growth. One area of growth and change that we are pleased to share is being led by Wichita State University’s Office of Institutional Equity and Compliance (OIEC). Beginning in the fall, OIEC will be working on a number of initiatives to increase education and awareness of Title IX and campus safety, and to expand the accessibility and transparency of OIEC resources and processes.
One of these initiatives that we are excited to implement is the Sexual Assault Prevention training requirement for all WSU students, faculty and staff. A recent survey aimed at gauging Title IX awareness and prevention indicated that 70% of employees and 63% of students feel the training should be mandatory. This is consistent with the Student Government Association’s resolution supporting mandatory Sexual Assault Prevention training. OIEC is partnering with SGA to develop content for a student-centric video promoting the importance of completing mandatory training.
OIEC will continue to offer trainings to incoming and transfer students during new student orientation; content specific trainings to student organizations, graduate assistants, graduate teaching assistants, tutors, resident assistants, student athletes and mandatory reporters. OIEC will be offering a new advanced advisor training that will be released in late summer 2021.
Finally, OIEC will see a staffing increase to assist with processing complaints and providing resources and education to the campus community.
These initiatives are on the heels of a comprehensive review recently completed by Cozen O’Connor, a national law firm specializing in federal compliance issues mandated under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Title IX), the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act (Clery Act) and the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 (VAWA). This review examined the University’s written policies, procedures and related documents and communications; interviews of campus implementers, stakeholders and persons who have utilized OIEC services; and a survey of students, staff and faculty seeking feedback, observations and recommendations. The review provided the university and the Kansas Board of Regents a comprehensive assessment of OIEC’s legal compliance and examined ways the university could enhance the effectiveness of its policies, procedures and practices related to sexual and gender-based harassment and violence under Title IX and related provisions of the Clery Act and VAWA.
The review targeted three areas of the university’s Title IX regulatory compliance: (1) publishing a non-discrimination statement, (2) appointing a Director of Institutional Equity and Compliance, and (3) having a written, prompt, and equitable grievance procedure for resolution of reports and formal complaints of sexual harassment. The review revealed that the university was in compliance with all three areas, noting the university’s 2018 installment of a Director of Institutional Equity and Compliance and its efforts in adopting and updating as needed Policies 3.02 and 3.06.
The review also highlights the extensive training materials that have been created and offered beginning in 2018. Several of the training materials can be found on OIEC’s website.
The review also identified areas that could be improved, including visibility, enhanced advisor training, increased reporting, and education on mandatory reporting obligations by employees. These areas of opportunity were highlighted in the campus-wide survey conducted last spring. The review also found a discrepancy between the number of reports made compared to the number of formal investigations conducted. It was found that a high number of individuals did not respond to OIEC’s outreach resulting in cases that could not be investigated.
We support the external review of the university’s Title IX procedures, policies and practices and the recommendations that followed. We look forward to our students, faculty and staff returning to campus this fall and the positive and exciting changes and opportunities for growth that our students and our university as a whole are poised to achieve.
For an accessible copy of the report or survey, please contact OIEC.wichita.edu.
OIEC is committed to ensuring a work and educational environment that is free from discrimination, harassment, and sexual misconduct. OIEC is a university resource and encourages Wichita State community members to reach out with any questions about related policies and processes.
Dr. Richard Muma, President
Christine Taylor, Executive Director of Institutional Equity & Compliance