AUSTIN, Texas — University of Texas students aren't giving up as they continue to protest outside of the provost's office demanding accountability for sexual misconduct at UT.
The students said certain professors, who have allegedly violated sexual misconduct policies, are a threat to their safety. They said the biggest issue is UT doesn't inform them about the professors who have violated these policies
"There are already professors who have been mistreating students, who have been harassing students, who have been exploiting their positions of power and yielding them for their own benefit, and we're not OK with that," said Lynn Huynh, a UT student.
"The entire thing is a choice. They're choosing not to inform students and that's the issue that we have, and that's why we're stressing transparency because it's something they actually can do – legally everything – they're allowed to do this. It's the fact that they're choosing not to," said Simone Gabriela Harry, a UT student.
Wednesday's protest is the third one this month and students said they won't let it go. They mainly want a report to be sent out to the entire student body naming guilty professors.
"The information that we’ve been receiving about these professors and sexual misconduct has come from students themselves and people doing the work and doing the research," said Harry. "There's still been inaction. There's still been dismissal, I mean, a lack of action from UT."
UT has responded to each protest with a statement. On Wednesday, the university stated that it takes allegations of misconduct seriously:
"When an allegation is reported, we thoroughly investigate the matter and when policies are violated, sanctions are imposed. The severity of the sanctions is intended to match the severity of the misconduct.
Regardless of the status of the alleged wrong-doer, the university follows policies that are prompt, fair and impartial. We understand that students feel the university can do better, and we agree. We look forward to the findings of the external review and receiving further input from the Misconduct Working Group of students, faculty and staff to guide potential improvements."
In the statement, the university continued to list the actions taken since Oct. 25:
- "University leadership has held two meetings with student leaders to discuss their concerns and determine the representatives who will serve on this working group.
- The university has formed a campus working group for Title IX and misconduct issues, which will comprise undergraduate and graduate students, faculty and staff members, as well as university leaders. These members will examine and identify opportunities for the university to improve how we review and communicate about sexual misconduct and other significant issues.
- The university has hired an external firm to undertake a comprehensive review of our Title IX and sexual misconduct policies and procedures.
- A website has been created to provide further information and regular updates on progress.
University leadership has communicated these steps through three messages to the campus community and will continue to keep the campus updated:
- October 30, 2019 - A Letter to Students and UT Community from Executive Vice President & Provost McInnis
- November 7, 2019 - Addressing Sexual Misconduct at UT
- November 19, 2019 – Addressing Sexual Misconduct at UT Next Steps
These are all important steps, but our work is just beginning. We will continue partnering closely with student leadership and other campus stakeholders to find solutions to these issues."
As of Dec. 11, Misconduct Working Group meetings have held between students and university leaders. Students say this lets them explain their demands to UT leaders.
The students in the group say the university has expressed interest in not releasing professors' names, but students say it's not ending there. They plan to keep pushing for the list to be made available to students signing up for classes.
The group plans to meet every two weeks this spring.
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