GTAC emailed the following statement to GTAs at KU on Monday, March 7, 2022:
Dear fellow GTAs,
On February 17, 2022, a KC Star article revealed allegations of a culture of abuse within the Mechanical Engineering Department of the School of Engineering. This culture enabled an abuser to evade consequences, endangered the victim as they were forced to work alongside their abuser, and created an environment of such fear and distrust that fifty Mechanical Engineering students signed a solidarity letter addressed to the Department– anonymously, due to their fear of retaliation.
There is no place for abusers at KU. Up to this point, the Title IX process has been used to protect an abuser at this institution, and this is unacceptable. The fact that 50 students together were still afraid to sign their names to their solidarity letter points to an underlying issue of retaliation against the most vulnerable workers on this campus.
Part of a broader problem…
KU has repeatedly failed those who file reports of sexual harassment or sexual violence. In 2017, KU settled a lawsuit brought by two undergraduate students at KU who were also members of the rowing team. These students claimed that they were sexually assaulted in Jawhawker Towers by a football player and that they were retaliated against by their rowing coach after they reported the assaults, and they accused KU of mishandling their cases and the Title IX process. Last year, reports revealed that (now former) KU football coach Les Miles had been the target of complaints of sexual harassment at his former institution. It became clear that KU had invited an alleged predator to work with its student athletes and student employees.
This issue is endemic to KU. And rather than addressing their failure to protect the broader KU community from sexual violence, KU all but decimated its Title IX office with no transparency.
GTAC’s stance on this crisis…
- GTAC believes Jane Doe.
- GTAC stands in solidarity with the graduate workers in Mechanical Engineering and Jane Doe.
- GTAC fully supports the demands made by the students of Mechanical Engineering in their solidarity letter and calls on the University of Kansas to take immediate action to protect their workers and their students against a culture of pervasive sexual violence.
The GTAC Executive Team