In a May meeting of the Hesston College Board of Directors, college administrators proposed the formation of a task force to help the college establish policies and procedures to prevent and address all forms of sexual misconduct and to create a culture that seeks to support and empower victims. The board granted approval to continue moving the process forward.
“It is our desire to create a new and better culture that seeks to dismantle sexual misconduct,” said President Howard Keim. “We recognize that our own history and that of the Mennonite Church is not flawless in this regard. We want to create the best possible environment for the safety of our students and employees.”
The task force is expected to include a variety of internal and external members, including professionals outside of Mennonite Church USA organizations who can objectively evaluate the college’s policies, procedures and culture to help effect change.
The proposal to the board states that the hope is to create an environment where all members of the campus community feel safe and supported. “In this environment, measures are taken to educate and prevent sexual misconduct. In this environment, there is no shame or fear in reporting acts of abuse or misconduct. In this environment, victims’ safety, security and healing will be a top priority, which requires outside help. In this environment, our leaders will act swiftly when allegations arise.”
College administrators and board members have begun conversations with organizations that can provide insight and assistance, and are assembling a list of names of potential task force leaders and participants. The task force will begin meeting early in the fall 2016 semester.
“Much of our path forward will be determined after the group is formed and tasks are discerned,” said Mark Landes, vice president of Finance and Auxiliary Services, who oversees human resources. “The bottom line is that it’s time for Hesston College to move, simply because it’s the right thing to do and creating a desired environment is critical to the future we hope for all of Hesston College.”