As colleges and universities across the state prepare to implement a new law regarding sexual misconduct reporting, students at The University of Texas at Austin are pushing to enforce tougher policies against faculty violators.
Most recently in a series of on-campus protests held this year, student advocates urged the university to put student safety above faculty interests. The protests began in late October following a discovery revealing two professors were still employed despite being “found in violation of UT’s sexual misconduct policy,” according to The Daily Texan.
These demonstrations highlight the challenge Texas universities may face as students “shift…their focus to requesting more transparency about the university’s Title IX and sexual misconduct procedures,” as The Dallas Morning News recently reported.
Five days after the student sit-in, on October 30, university officials announced they would “hire outside experts to review the University’s Title IX policies,” and on November 7 made an announcement that a working group would be created to review sexual misconduct policies.
Membership for the Misconduct Working Group, comprised of “undergraduate and graduate students, faculty and staff members, and university leaders,” was finalized in December, will “examine and identify opportunities for the university to improve how we review and communicate about sexual misconduct and other related issues. It will work to solicit feedback, examine topics around vocabulary, communication, and policy,” according to The University of Texas website.
Though students continue to push for a more defined role in the university’s decision-making processes, the university is unlikely to make decisions prior to a planned student-led town hall on January 27 when the Spring semester begins.Universities across the state may face similar criticism as Senate Bill 212 goes into effect January 1. The bill requires that “all employees of Texas universities…report sexual harassment, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking to a Title IX Coordinator,” who must then report monthly to the school president “detailing the incidents investigated and whether any discipline had been handed out.”