President Michael Shonrock recently approved a new addition to the Emporia State policy manual, which outlines a clear and definite response to situations involving childsexual abuse and conforms with the Kansas Board of Regents policy. While ESU’s policy manual already has sections regarding sexual assault, KBOR felt the need for a more clearly written policy on the matter.
“Each state university has policies, procedures and processes in place to address abuse issues,” said Andy Tompkins, President and CEO of the Kansas Board of Regents. “The unfortunate incident at Penn State informed the board’s decision to adopt a policy and direct campuses to evaluate existing processes to ensure clear reporting expectations and processes were in place.”
The policy was written in response to the Penn State events in which Jerry Sandusky, former assistant football coach, was accused of sexually assaulting or having inappropriate contact with at least eight underage boys on or near university property. As a result of the investigation into these allegations, several high-ranking employees at the college were fired for assisting in covering up the situation, including the late Joe Paterno.
ESU’s new policy states that university faculty and staff are required to report incidents of child sexual abuse, as defined by the law, that they witness on campus or during university sponsored events to campus police or other appropriate law enforcement. It also states that retaliation for lawfully reporting crimes is prohibited.
“It’s common sense, that as a human being you would (report abuse) anyway, regardless of what university policy states,” said Mary Halleran, clinical instructor of sociology, anthropology and crime and delinquency studies.
Before the signing of the new policy there were already sections of the policy manual that instructed faculty and staff on contacting authorities in certain situations.
“We wanted to make sure that Emporia State had an absolutely clear statement with regards to this particular type of incident because we want to make sure that everyone is aware of the responsibilities and that we handle them appropriately,” said Tracy Greene, general counsel for ESU and records custodian.
While the policy primarily affects how faculty and staff are supposed to handle a situation involving sexual abuse, students are supportive of the policy.
“If a teacher saw that (someone) was being harassed, I would like for them to report that so that could stop,” said Noble Orajiato, freshman communications major. “Why would you sit there and watch someone get repeatedly harassed or abused and not say anything about it?”
Cassie Phillips, sophomore elementary education major, also said that she felt the new policy was a good thing.
“Sexual child abuse is a major thing, and I think that it’s good that it has its own section,” Phillips said.
The new policy can be found online in ESU’s policy manual. Information on emergency situations and reporting incidents can be found on the campus safety web page and in the policy manual.