Sexual assault complaints on the rise at KU

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LAWRENCE, Kan. -- Sexual assault complaints are on the rise at the University of Kansas. The university says it received 120 sexual assault and harassment complaints in 2014 and just 50 complaints the year before.

According to the Director of the University's Office of Institutional Opportunity and Access, the division that handles complaints, FOX 4 was told of the complaints reported many occur not between strangers, but between people who know one another.

It's a fact that has left some victim's feeling blamed for being raped according to Emma Hallings, a KU student and co-chair of the Title IX Round Table of students and administrators who are reviewing how the university handles sexual assaults, harassment and discrimination complaints.

“Students were coming to the university confiding ‘I've been raped, this is very traumatic, I need help getting through classes and I would like for there to be a sense of justice,’” said Hallings.

Hallings says victim's felt the university devalued sexual assaults and it enraged students who staged protests.

“A student admitted to having had sex with a woman who could not consent, and in his sanctions there was a possibility that he could have had to write a four page paper, and they decided that that was too stiff for him,” said Hallings.

Jane McQueeny, whose office handles sexual violence and discrimination complaints, says alcohol has been a key component to assault cases.

“We work really hard to make sure all students are safe,” said McQueeny.

She says every incoming student must complete an alcohol tutorial to explain the link between alcohol and sexual violence.

“They were concerned that the training wasn't mandatory so that we maybe weren't reaching all the students, we are changing that, we are listening and trying to make sure that we are incorporating the ideas that they have,” said McQueeny.

The University of Kansas is among 95 institutions with pending Title IX sexual violence investigations by the US Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights.