Hesston College acknowledges reported Title IX compliance failures

The report found failures in how the college carried out Title IX policies and procedures.
Published: Apr. 19, 2023 at 5:38 PM CDT
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HESSTON, Kan. (KWCH) - Hesston College said it will work to make changes after a report found failures in carrying out Title IX policies and procedures, specifically around cases of sexual assault and gender-based violence.

A report from Cozen O’Connor details what it calls failures by Hesston College in handling reports of sexual and gender-based harassment and violence.

“It Was just really, really heartbreaking to read about the things I hadn’t even heard about before,” said Hesston College senior Kara Longenecker of the 64-page report.

Last December, Longenecker joined with fellow students to express concern and seek changes.

Students took to the center of campus on Friday saying they wanted their voices to be heard.

“This is really the beginning and I really want to see the college addressing every single thing that was in that report,” she said.

That’s what Hesston College President Dr. Joseph Manickam said the college will work to do. He said he was deeply saddened by what was in the report.

“I want to apologize to the students for what they had to face,” he said. “They should not have gone through what they went through here, and we are terribly sorry for that.”

The report found three main failures in responding to and assessing reports of sexual or gender-based harassment and violence, providing consistent care or support and improperly utilizing informal resolution methods.

In response to the report, Hesston College said it’s taking immediate steps that include restorative outreach to students impacted by the college’s past actions, requiring Title IX training for all senior leaders and hiring an outside group to implement the recommendations.

“(What I) can’t emphasize enough as we go forward is, ‘how do we create systems within our campus to more fully listen to our students and be engaged with them,” Dr. Manickam said.

Longenecker said what she wants now is for the college to reach out to her and other students working on this issue.

“I’m really wanting to have conversations and I’m wanting to open up things more. So I still do want to see some more initiation from the college,” she said.

Dr. Manickam said student voices will be a critical part as Hesston College works on changes.

The college commissioned the report last fall to look at its Title IX policies and procedures following student concerns.