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Revised policies establish enhanced procedures for responding to sexual misconduct

AUSTIN – The University of Texas System has issued explicit and comprehensive policies to better protect staff and students when cases of sexual misconduct, violence and harassment occur.

The updated policies fully comply with new federal guidelines, including the Campus SaVE Act, and provide model policies that individual UT institutions will adopt. The new policies were implemented following consultation with UT institutions and in response to recommendations from the UT System Task Force on Employee/Student Relationships. The UT System Board of Regents approved changes to Regents’ Rules Thursday to ensure compliance with federal law and consistency across all UT institutions.

“These policies are a reflection of our commitment to ensure that incidents of sexual misconduct are reported and that our students and staff are connected to the resources they need,” Chancellor William H. McRaven said. “There is nothing more important than the safety of our students and staff, and these policies provide clear, consistent protocols for our institutions.”

In 2011, the U.S. Department of Education requested colleges and universities establish more elaborate policies and procedures related to sexual misconduct and take a more proactive effort to prevent sexual violence.

“The UT System and UT institutions immediately implemented new policies in response to the federal directive, and at the same time we began a dialogue to discuss ways we could improve policies even further,” said Dan Sharphorn, UT System vice chancellor and general counsel.

In March 2013, Regents appointed a 15-member task force to examine the System’s policies and processes related to sexual harassment, sexual misconduct and employee/student relationships. The task force issued a series of recommendations in its December 2013 report to the Regents.

In August, Regents revised Regents’ Rules and Regulations to clearly define what constitutes sexual harassment and misconduct and to outline procedures to review complaints.

The revised comprehensive policies, which were sent to all UT institutions last week, include:

  • a revised model sexual harassment/sexual misconduct policy;
  • a revised model student conduct and discipline policy;
  • a new University of Texas system-wide policy on consensual relationships; and
  • a new model consensual relationships policy.

“A comprehensive set of policies, along with our prevention efforts and our investigation of sexual violence cases, demonstrates to our campus community that the safety of our students is among our top priorities,” said Jennifer Hammat, Ed.D., associate vice president for University Compliance Services and Title IX coordinator at the University of Texas at Austin. “Students can be confident the administration takes all forms of sexual violence seriously and that we will work tirelessly to end such violence in our community. These policies formalize the work and the protocols we know to be essential.”

About The University of Texas System

Educating students, providing care for patients, conducting groundbreaking research and serving the needs of Texans and the nation for more than 130 years, The University of Texas System is one of the largest public university systems in the United States, with nine academic universities, six health institutions and an enrollment of more than 213,000. The UT System confers more than one-third of the state’s undergraduate degrees, educates two-thirds of the state’s health care professionals annually and accounts for almost 70 percent of all research funds awarded to public universities in Texas. The UT System has an annual operating budget of $15.6 billion (FY 2015) including $3 billion in sponsored programs funded by federal, state, local and private sources. With about 90,000 employees, the UT System is one of the largest employers in the state.