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SAPEC: Preventing Sexual Assault

April 25, 2016

Students, faculty, and staff:

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and KU has recognized it with a variety of educational and awareness activities. These events continue conversations about a serious problem that affects our institution and campuses all across the nation.

Of course, efforts to change beliefs and behaviors surrounding sexual harassment and sexual assault happen throughout the year and KU is expanding these efforts through the new Sexual Assault Prevention and Education Center (SAPEC).

Jen Brockman, the director charged with launching SAPEC, has been working since January to put the center in front of undergraduate and graduate students, learning about our student body, developing new education and prevention programming, and building support and trust. In the first 30 days of SAPEC’s existence, Brockman met with 75 student groups, and departments. She asked questions and listened to learn what students need from the center for it to be successful. 

What she’s found during the past three months is that people at KU are passionate about improving our actions and making KU a safe place for all to live, learn, grow, and innovate.

Brockman is developing programming in three main areas: changing culture and attitudes around sexual violence; helping individuals recognize signs of sexual violence, step in, redirect, and stop perpetrator behavior before it escalates (known as bystander intervention); and supporting and communicating support for those affected by sexual violence.

Her multi-faceted strategy has student perspective and involvement at its core, with the guiding principle “Nothing for us without us.” Students want SAPEC to be successful and are looking for ways to be involved.

Students like Sara Li, Jack Graham, and Ben Wilson are key examples. Sara Li founded Project Consent, a nonprofit organization that offers information, resources, and education with the goal of diminishing rape culture and promoting the definition and requirement of consent. With 35 employee-contributors, the Project Consent website has global reach and staff located in the United States, Canada, Chile, and the Netherlands. Jack Graham and Ben Wilson are the creative forces behind the viral Hawk Interviews, which candidly showcase nightlife exuberance after closing time. The two are using their video talents to help create “Not Asking For It,” a PSA that Brockman hopes will be finished before the end of the month. Li, Graham, and Wilson are working collaboratively on a project for the fall as well.

By highlighting the creative and intellectual strengths on campus, Brockman wants students to see role models in each other. As another way to engage students, SAPEC is establishing a cadre of peer educators. In addition, the Prevention Collective, a multidisciplinary advisory group of students, faculty, and staff meets regularly to evaluate programming, offer feedback, and create new efforts. Brockman invites more students to join.

The center serves as a resource and referral tool for survivors as well. While not designed to provide care for sexual assault victims, Brockman says SAPEC will refer survivors to appropriate support services. Resources include both on-campus and off-campus support, such as KU’s CARE Coordinator, Watkins Health Services, Institutional Opportunity and Access, Counseling and Psychological Services, The University Ombuds Office, The Willow Domestic Violence Center, and more.

People can stop by the SAPEC office at 116 Carruth-O’Leary, and we can all watch for additional efforts coming from SAPEC in the weeks and months ahead. Yet Brockman says we won’t have to look hard. Students should see her, additional staff, and peer educators out and about. Prevention work, she stresses, happens out in the field.

News and Notes

  • Thank you and congratulations to all the faculty and staff who will be recognized on May 4 for their years of service.  As in the past, we will honor those whose work anniversaries are in multiples of five.  By my calculations the 2016 event celebrates more than 750 employees who, combined, have contributed more than 11,000 years of effort to the State of Kansas. 
  • First-Year Experience will host a panel discussion about the 2016-2017 KU Common Book, “Between the World and Me” by Ta-Nehisi Coates.  The event — from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m., Wednesday, April 27, in the Commons of Spooner Hall — features students, faculty, staff, and administrators discussing how they are using and plan to use the book to advance goals.
  • The Senior Administrative Fellows Program is accepting applications for the 2016-2017 class.  The program assists faculty who have an interest or talent for higher education administration. Applications from tenured faculty members are due by May 6.
  • KU Professionals for Inclusion and Social Justice will hold a brown bag discussion on Actions for Social Justice and Inclusion in education and society from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 27, in 246 Joseph R. Pearson Hall.
  • Vice Provost for Diversity and Equity Nate Thomas announced the call for nominations for the inaugural Diversity Leadership Awards.  The awards recognize people or programs that demonstrate and support a commitment to diversity, inclusion and intellectual and cultural growth.  Nominations are due by May 27.
  • The University Core Curriculum Committee will host two town halls in May on the KU Core Review.  Professor Ted Peltier, chair of the UCCC, and Vice Provost DeAngela Burns-Wallace will discuss the process for preparing reports of courses under review.
  • Congratulations to Julie Nagel who was recently appointed permanently to the role of associate vice chancellor for innovation and entrepreneurship.  As president of KU Innovation and Collaboration she manages intellectual property and technology commercialization across all campuses.
  • Enrollment is underway for the 2016 Stats Camp: Summer Statistical Institute.  The program, which offers both weeklong and daily format, is an intensive training opportunity in advanced statistics for faculty, graduate students, undergraduate students and others.
  • Good luck during the remaining weeks of class and congratulations to the newest Jayhawks who will join our growing family of alumni at Commencement.  Stay focused on completing studies and acing exams and remember to celebrate their completion with safety in mind.
Provost's Message Signature: 

Have a successful and safe end to the academic year.


Sara T. Rosen

Interim Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor

Follow me on Twitter at @KUProvost

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