The consulting firms UTSA hired to review the university’s Title IX process and the allegations of a campus climate tolerance of sexual assault have released their reports.
The two firms are Ice Miller, charged with investigating sexual assault allegations initiated in November 2018 and Baker Tilly, charged with reviewing Title IX compliance that was initiated in February 2019.
“In my mind, there is only one path before us—we must be relentless in our quest to continually improve as an institution,” stated President Eighmy in an email sent on April 4 regarding the sexual assault accusations.
Ice Miller was brought to UTSA after a series of flyers alleging sexual assaults were posted on campus and at an off-campus apartment in November 2018. Around this same time, UTSA administrators became aware of a group of approximately 30 female UTSA students who gathered to discuss concerns about sexual assaults occurring on campus.
“The Ice Miller and Baker Tilly reports were everything I expected [them] to be; bare minimum and superficial. Ice Miller was 13 pages of the University’s performative actions and complete dismissal of the positive change #ChangeRapeCulure has done for the UTSA and San Antonio community,” Katerina Tsvekov, a senior public health major and co-organizer for #ChangeRapeCulture said.
According to the report, UTSA contacted Ice Miller on Nov. 20 to conduct a factual investigation and speak to indviduals involved with sexaul assault incidents in order to understand their desire to improve UTSA culture.
Based on the investigation report, Ice Miller was unable to receive any specific details from individuals who posted the flyers that gave rise to the investigation. Student organizers declined to speak with Ice Miller but spoke with UTSA officials about potential changes to improve protection and care for sexual assault survivors. The few reports Ice Miller received either had already been reported to UTSA’s Title IX compliance office or only provided general information. Based on the reports the Title IX office received, a separate audit report is being compiled.
“Culture change is imperative and will require us to take a hard look at the factors playing into sexual assaults, such as the role and the need for a common understanding of consent,” President Eighmy, in the email, said.
According to the Baker Tilly review on Title IX compliance, the investigation had three main objectives: to determine if policy documentation complies with Title IX requirements and reflects university Title IX administration practices, to assess Title IX processes to see if they follow documented policies and procedures and to evaluate potential Title IX office reporting structures.
The Baker Tilly review details UTSA’s strengths regarding sexual misconduct: a positive tone from President Eighmy; Equal Opportunity Services (EOS) investigators experienced in law enforcement, student conduct, human resources discrimination and Title VII; technology for campus safety, the LiveSafe Smartphone Application; and implementation of annual training on Title IX.
However, the Baker Tilly review also details recommendations based on high, medium and low priority.
High priority recommendations include updating the Handbook of Operating Procedures 9.24 Sexual Harassment and Sexual Misconduct to decide who determines sanctions, creating a template for written notifications to respondants, implementing that the EOS Director provides parties with ample time to review and respond to investigation reports and then to revise the report based on feedback and updating the SCCS finding letter templates to include justifications and implementing a Legal Affairs review.
“We are making every effort to cultivate a zero-tolerance environment at UTSA where community members can thrive,” Robinson said. “We recognize that even one instance of sexual assault or misconduct in our community is one too many. We expect swift progress in moving toward our goal of zero-tolerance.”
Students received an email on April 8 asking them to participate in a survey on student safety and services. According to President Eighmy’s email, Dr. Megan Augustyn, assistant professor in UTSA’s department of criminal justice is leading the study. Her study is independent from the external review reports or the events that initiated them.
“We believe it is not enough to acknowledge that threats to safety occur; we want to know how these threats impact the well-being of UTSA students,” said Dr. Augustyn.
According to Dr. Augustyn the goal of the survey is to assess student experiences whether they occur on campus, in the San Antonio community or online as they relate to safety. Investigators will use the data to make recommendations for policies and will work with interested groups to identify ways that student services could be improved.
“Once again, I appreciate the students, faculty and staff who hold us accountable for making UTSA a better institution and a safe space for all,” said President Eighmy in the email. “Your voices play an important role in helping us to find effective solutions, build trust and move forward together.”
For Sexual Assault Awarness Month, UTSA will be hosting events to raise awarness about sexual assault prevention. If you would like more information, please visit http://www.utsa.edu/studentadvocacy/saam. For additional information related to EOS, please visit https://www.utsa.edu/eos. For counseling services, visit http://www.utsa.edu/counsel.