UTSA’s director of Equal Opportunity Services (EOS) and Title IX Coordinator, Suzanne Patrick, plans to raise awareness of the office and the services it provides to UTSA students, faculty and staff.
“I think it is always a challenge for students to understand what Title IX is and how that can be supportive to them, so that they are ultimately successful in their experience,” Patrick said.
According to Patrick, a lot of students are unaware of what Title IX means, so raising awareness through training sessions, presentations, conversations with the UTSA community and marketing campaigns are important.
Patrick has been working towards raising awareness since her first day as director of EOS and Title IX coordinator on Dec. 17, 2018.
“In the first week after break, I did four new trainings for peer mentors and campus rec folks. We participated in a convocation for the music department,” Patrick said. “We want people to know that we are very accessible and we are available to provide information and resources to the UTSA community including any student group that would like us to come speak or staff group, or anyone.”
Patrick hopes that the training the office informs the UTSA community on what they do, what their process looks like and what resources are available.
The EOS office primarily evaluates complaints involving discrimination based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, age, veteran status, disability or sexual orientation. Title IX complaints include sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, sexual violence and Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) crimes such as dating violence, domestic violence and stalking. Depending on the complaint, the office will determine their approach to the situation.
”For students, if it’s discrimination based on disability, it could fall under the American Disability Act (ADA), so students come with their concerns that they feel they may have an issue with on campus and we will look at it with them with that lense and then figure out how we can help them move through our administrative process to help redress those issues,” Patrick said. “We also work with students who are pregnant or have pregnancy related issues and we can help them. Academic support for that doesn’t fall under the ADA, it falls under Title IX.”
The complaints the office receives may result in a consult, an administrative process that leads to a finding in the conduct office or interim measures. Students are able to file complaints through UTSA Police or SAPD, but they may also pursue an administrative process.
“We meet with both parties to make a determination. We put out a finding report, and then we send that over to the conduct office for judication. We don’t actually judicate cases here, we just determine, in a very fair and impartial way what happened or didn’t happen,” Patrick said.
If there are complaints that do not fall under a protected class, the office can refer the student to the right place to address the issue. Regardless of the complaint’s result, Patrick aims at ensuring excellent customer service and wants those who visit the office to feel like the process was fair and impartial.
“I don’t think anyone likes to come somewhere and then be like, ‘I don’t know what happened,’” Patrick said. “Even if they have to get handed off to another office, I like to tie it up really neatly and hand it off so they don’t have to start all over from the beginning.”
As director of EOS and Title IX coordinator, Patrick will oversee compliance with Title IX, monitor campus issues, work with various departments, provide Title IX training, participate in orientation, oversee all cases in the process for the office’s investigators, provide support and resources and consult with various groups on campus.
The EOS assistant director, two investigators and an analyst conduct the investigations and find support while Patrick focuses on monitoring and compliance.
Patrick believes that her experience in higher education at Our Lady of the Lake University, St. Mary’s University, University of Maryland School of Law and The George Washington University School of Law has given her a good sense in how to get the point across to students.
“I’ve been in higher education for a long time, almost 18 years, so I have a lot of experience working with various different student groups,” Patrick said. “I am always very cognizant of putting myself in their shoes and wanting people to have an easy experience even if something is a difficult topic.”
Students who are not employed through UTSA can anonymously reach out to the EOS office through a hotline or online web form and can send an email to the office.
“We do look into everything we get, whether it’s anonymous or not,” Patrick said.
For more information or to report an incident, visit www.utsa.edu/eos. To discuss an issue or incident with someone from the office, students can call 210-458-4120 or email the office at [email protected].