LAWRENCE — The prevention of campus sexual assault remains a critical issue, and over the last four years, the University of Kansas has risen to the forefront of institutions invested in sexual assault prevention. A new partnership with two state agencies will further advance those efforts.
KU’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Education Center, created in response to recommendations from then-Chancellor Bernadette Gray Little’s Task Force on Sexual Assault’s 2015 report, will collaborate with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment’s (KDHE) Sexual Violence Prevention and Education (SVPE) Program and the Kansas Coalition against Sexual and Domestic Violence (KCSDV). Through a competitive state-level application process, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Public Health Association (APHA) awarded the Kansas team a Campus Sexual Assault Prevention: Implementation Evaluation Program grant, which is being administered by the SVPE Program. Only four states were awarded the grant.
The award leverages the state level partnership formed around KU’s efforts to be a leader in sexual assault prevention efforts.
The foundation of that partnership formed in July 2015, on the heels of the campus task force’s report, when a team of employees from KU, KDHE and KSCDV was selected to attend the CDC’s Campus Sexual Assault Prevention Action Planning Meeting. KU team members were Tammara Durham, vice provost for student affairs; Juliana Carlson, assistant professor of social welfare, and Dustin Struble, who is now a prevention educator for SAPEC. The team also included Laurie Hart, KDHE’s SVPE program manager, and Sarah Hachmeister, staff member at KCSDV. This experience additionally laid the groundwork for the partnerships’ future successes, including this new grant and the Heartland Campus Sexual Assault Policies and Prevention Project.
“What I remember so vividly from that 2015 meeting was how impressed the CDC leadership was about Dr. Durham’s presence,” Carlson said. “One CDC administrator told me that it demonstrated KU’s commitment to the issue of campus sexual assault prevention. It was also noted that the Kansas team had brought the highest level of administrators among all the state teams, which again garnered a lot of enthusiasm from the CDC.”
The new grant award creates the opportunity for KU and the state team to deepen and extend the collaboration and learning with CDC and APHA. One of the grant’s deliverables is a comprehensive implementation evaluation plan, focused on SAPEC’s key outcomes of social norm change related to sexual assault and healthy relationships. The award provides resources for KDHE to hire evaluation staff to support the development and implementation of the plan over the award’s nine-month funding period.
“I am both excited and honored to be a part of this effort,” said Laurie Hart. “I am thrilled that the University of Kansas has been doing so much to prevent sexual violence on their campus and is willing to expand their evaluation work with this initiative. I hope the lessons learned through this initiative can be shared with other colleges and universities across Kansas."