UTSA to continue requiring mandatory reporting despite Title IX changes


Robyn Castro

The North Paseo Building (center, back) holds the Title IX office on the fourth floor. UTSA will continue using mandatory reporters even though it is no longer federally required. Photo by Robyn Castro

Jaida Sloan, Staff Writer

The Department of Education officially rescinded the Obama administration’s Title IX policy, known as “The Dear Colleague Letter,” and released a series of Title IX regulation changes, marking the end of federally mandated mandatory reporting. Despite the changes, Krista Anderson, the UT Systemwide Title IX coordinator, said, “The UT-system continues to adopt the responsible employee reporting obligations and the definition of a responsible employee.”

In Texas, mandatory reporting merely received a new name under Senate Bill 212 (SB 212), which requires all university employees to report incidents of sexual misconduct. In addition, HOP Policy 9.24: Sexual Harassment and Sexual Misconduct further defines the expectation of all institution employees, calling them “responsible employees.”

A responsible employee, according to the UTSA website on SB 212, is defined as “A university employee who has the duty to report incidents of and information reasonably believed to be sexual misconduct to the Title IX Coordinator, or an employee whom an individual could reasonably believe has this duty.” Everyone, from UTSA professors, tutors and advisors to students who work for UTSA, is obligated to adhere to the Responsible Employee policy. 

Students such as UTSA senior anthropology major Kayla Pringle, who is the president of Women in Leadership, believe there is a lack of clarity on who a mandatory reporter is on campus. 

“The lack of awareness on who is a mandatory reporter is problematic because some victims just want to talk about their experience, so I imagine it could be devastating to have a faculty member report to Title IX something you told them in confidence,” Pringle said.

The Student and University Ombudspersons and employees of the PEACE Center, Student Health Services, and Counseling and Mental Health Services are the only UTSA employees who are not mandatory reporters.

The UTSA website also outlines the repercussions for an employee’s failure to report an incident.

“Under SB 212, an employee who fails to report an incident of sexual harassment, sexual assault, dating violence, or stalking may be subject to criminal offense (misdemeanor) and, in accordance with the University’s disciplinary procedure in a policy violation of failing to report, the University is required to terminate the employee’s employment,” the website stated.

Other than UTSA’s obligation to adhere to SB212, Anderson explained why she believes mandatory reporters on campus are important.

 “We enforce this policy because it’s important for us to outreach to anyone who identifies as a victim or survior of an incident of sexual assault or harrassment and communicate the resources available to them,” Anderson said. 

Associate Professor in the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice Megan Augustyn, a mandatory reporter because of her employment as a UTSA professor, also believes mandatory reporting has some benefits.

 “Mandatory reporting is also important because if you are aware a crime has occured, it should be dealt with appropriately and it shouldn’t be pushed under the rug. I view it from a victimization standpoint, in that if you do ignore it, it doesn’t serve as a deterrent. It’s also important that we take victims and their needs seriously,” Augustyn said.

Professors and students shared mixed feelings on mandatory reporting, but all agreed they wanted to add measures to help improve survivor-mandatory reporter relations.

Sandra Bustmante, a UTSA junior public administration major, shared what she believes needs to change with our current mandatory reporting system.

“Mandatory reporters should be required to notify the survivor that they are obligated to report what they shared with them and explain to the survivor why they think it’s important that they do report what was shared with them,” Sandra Bustmante said. “This will keep mutual respect and trust between faculty and students.”

“I like mandatory reporting,” Augustyn said. “ I dont think it’s enough to just require employees to be mandatory reporters: Employees should have to disclose to the person who is sharing the information that they are obligated to report.”

“From my perspective, my obligation is not just to the university and Title IX but also to the student who felt comfortable enough to share with me what happened to them,” Augustyn explained. “At that point, I would ask them, ‘What do you need me to do to help you?’”