An external review commissioned by President Joseph A. Manickam of Hesston College’s efforts to prevent and address sexual and gender-based harassment and violence and meet its obligations to Title IX found significant gaps and failures, Manickam and Board Chair Ken G Kabira announced April 14. In a letter to the community, Manickam and Kabira apologized on behalf of the college and committed to fully enacting the review’s recommendations to strengthen and improve student safety and wellbeing.
“We want to share with you, as two people who love Hesston College and believe in its mission, that we found reading this report and its descriptions of how we have failed our students painful, humbling and saddening,” Manickam and Kabira wrote. “To our students who were impacted by the college’s failures, we extend our own and the college’s most sincere apologies. We commit to doing all that we can to earn back your trust in the college.”
In November 2022, the college asked Cozen O’Conor, a firm with nationally recognized expertise in investigating sexual and gender-based harassment and violence, to conduct the review in response to student concerns.
In their letter to the community, Manickam and Kabira announced that the college would immediately:
- Work with Cozen O’Connor to initiate prompt restorative outreach to those affected by the college’s insufficient actions in response to their reports;
Provide educational and professional development programming for all senior leaders to ensure they have the necessary expertise in Title IX and related matters;
- Ensure that all campus administrators, faculty and staff who are or may be involved in the response to a report have sufficient training and support to ensure that these types of failures cannot occur at Hesston again;
- Immediately initiate a search for an external partner firm with expertise in Title IX institutional change to help prioritize the Cozen O’Connor recommendations, build a plan of action and track our implementation to ensure it is prompt, effective and meaningful;
- With the above partner, as a means of public accountability, keep the Hesston College community regularly informed on our Title IX efforts and provide opportunities to gather related feedback; and
- Identify and designate additional funding to support these efforts.
Manickam will update the community regularly on next steps and intends to have key improvements in place this fall. The college has created a webpage, hesston.edu/tixreview, that includes Cozen O’Connor’s full report as well as related resources.
Students, faculty, staff and alumni are encouraged to submit questions, comments and feedback to email@example.com.