LAWRENCE — For years, the University of Kansas and the city of Lawrence have collaborated on issues related to the health and safety of students and citizens in the community.
Now, the university and city are formalizing and extending that partnership through a memorandum of understanding (MOU) related specifically to sexual violence.
The MOU refines and strengthens the ways the university and city law enforcement work together to address incidences of sexual assault and, more broadly, the topic of sexual assault and sexual violence as it pertains to students and the Lawrence community. The MOU covers a range of issues related to sexual assault, including communication during investigations, information sharing, the collection of crime statistics, emergency notifications and crime alerts, and training.
“There continues to be an important national conversation about sexual violence, particularly on college campuses and in college communities,” said Tim Caboni, KU vice chancellor for public affairs. “KU and the city of Lawrence have had a strong working relationship for years on issues of public welfare and safety — including sexual violence — and this MOU formalizes and clarifies that relationship as it relates specifically to sexual violence.”
The MOU is on the agenda for the Lawrence City Commission meeting scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 17. Representatives from KU and the Lawrence Police Department will provide an overview of the MOU to the commissioners, who will then vote on whether to approve it. (View the complete meeting agenda or a staff memo summarizing the MOU.)
“The city values our relationship with KU, and this MOU is another example of how our community can come together to address important issues through proactive and productive measures,” said Mayor Mike Amyx.
The MOU was drafted over the past several months during a series of working sessions between KU and city law enforcement. Officials from the university and city both described the MOU as ahead of the curve, pointing out that there do not appear to be comparable examples anywhere in the country. Additionally, the university and city began working on the MOU well before the White House issued a MOU template for universities and local law enforcement in January.
“We looked at other communities across the nation, and we can’t find any other MOUs like this between a university and local law enforcement related specifically to sexual violence,” Caboni said. “As a community, Lawrence can be proud of the leadership role we are taking on this topic.”
The MOU builds directly on existing relationships between KU and the city related to sexual violence. For example, KU’s Student Affairs unit has a long-standing relationship with the Lawrence Police Department, while the university’s Office of Institutional Opportunity & Access has been communicating with the Douglas County District Attorney’s Office and collaborating on criminal and administrative complaints, per federal guidance.
“The university and city law enforcement work together all the time, but coming together around this specific topic was very valuable and informative,” Caboni said. “KU learned a lot about how LPD investigates and handles instances of sexual violence, and LPD gained a better understanding of KU’s federal obligations under Title IX and the Clery Act. So together, we all have a better understanding and appreciation for each other’s roles and responsibilities as they relate to sexual violence. This will benefit us tremendously in our efforts to make KU and Lawrence a safe and welcoming community.”