President Taylor Eighmy announced the President’s Initiative on Preventing Sexual Assault and Misconduct on Feb. 11. The goal of this initiative is to create a zero tolerance environment for sexual assault and misconduct at UTSA.
“Our students deserve to live, work and study in an environment with zero tolerance for sexual assault,” LT Robinson, UTSA interim dean of students and director of the Student Leadership Center, said.
Robinson was appointed by President Eighmy to lead this initiative. She regularly reports updates and feedback to President Eighmy.
Immediately upon President Eighmy’s arrival in fall 2017, he was briefed on the results of the Cultivating Learning and Safe Environments (CLASE) survey. The survey was conducted by UT Austin researchers on behalf of the UT system; it quantified sexual assault and misconduct at each UT system institution based on student surveys.
From there, President Eighmy conducted an external review of the Title IX office and its policies and procedures. Since that time, students, faculty and staff members have provided additional input on how to cultivate a zero tolerance environment.
“All of that information has progressively led to the creation of new resources and programs to educate our students about sexual assault and misconduct prevention,” said Robinson. “The Presidential Initiative formalizes and centralizes our efforts.”
A steering committee is led by Robinson will guide three task forces: one in programming and outreach, a second in training and development and a third in data governance and reporting.
“This initiative is about establishing prevention and awareness programs,” Robinson said. “In these early stages, we are working to highlight and educate the university community about available resources and reporting structure while expanding the services and processes based on regional and national standards.”
Student volunteers and university partners from Violence Prevention and Student Advocacy, Student Affairs, UTSA Police Department, Office of Equal Opportunity Standards, Title IX, the Faculty Senate and the Staff Council are working together in this initiative.
“We have a very engaged campus community and we have received a lot of constructive suggestions and recommendations from our students, faculty and staff that align with our current plans to expand and clarify policies, procedures and resources,” Robinson said.
Leading up to the initiative, the university established a variety of resources to support survivors of sexual assault including: creating The Office of Student Advocacy, Violence Prevention and Empowerment; naming Suzanne Patrick as the Title IX coordinator in Dec. 2018; moving to annual compliance training; joining the Culture of Respect Collective in January 2019; and purchasing Maxient software to track behavioral issues in one centralized location.
Additionally, the university hired Ice Miller in fall 2018 to investigate sexual assault and misconduct allegations. The investigation is currently ongoing and awaiting final reports according to Robinson.
Robinson added that colleges and universities across the nation are grappling with sexual assault and misconduct. She believes the initiative is beneficial for the UTSA community.
“At UTSA, we are committed to using every resource we have to help our students succeed, and that means we need to talk about this topic, regardless of how difficult it is,” Robinson said.