Announcing the President's Initiative on Preventing Sexual Assault and Misconduct
Today I’m pleased to announce a new initiative to cultivate a zero-tolerance environment for all forms of sexual assault and misconduct at UTSA.
Building on several past initiatives that led to the creation of our Office of Student Advocacy, Violence Prevention and Empowerment last year, this new initiative framework elevates university-wide efforts to foster a campus environment that is safe for all Roadrunners to study, work and live.
Led by Interim Dean of Students LT Robinson, the President’s Initiative on Preventing Sexual Assault and Misconduct is a wide-ranging endeavor with task forces designated to tackle various aspects of this critical work. At the outset they include:
- Programming & Outreach – Students, faculty and staff members on the Violence Prevention Action Team are already working to create a new slate of programs for the campus community. These include enhanced Orientation programming for incoming students and a peer educators cohort, among others. To support this work, UTSA has joined with 37 other colleges and universities in the Culture of Respect Collective, a rigorous two-year program designed to help institutions improve their approaches to addressing sexual violence on their campuses.
- Training & Development – This task force will develop an expansive set of sexual assault/misconduct educational opportunities for UTSA students, faculty and staff. Existing campus trainings will be reviewed—and new ones explored—to identify the most effective ways to equip Roadrunners with tools for prevention and bystander intervention. Continuing to develop our own understanding of these issues is fundamental to becoming a more inclusive, welcoming and safe campus.
- Data Governance & Reporting – Several units across the university collect information on sexual assault and misconduct incidents to fulfill various legal requirements for reporting. This task force will connect these efforts through a data governance structure to improve clarity, consistency and transparency, allowing us to better quantify trends and track our progress.
An initiative steering committee will create additional pathways for institutional systemic and culture change. A critical part of their work will be to evolve this initiative by creating action plans based on the findings of our forthcoming Title IX Office external review and sexual assault allegations investigation.
These reports will inform the work of Suzanne Patrick, our new director of Equal Opportunity Services and Title IX Coordinator, who has already hit the ground running to make improvements to our investigation process. Both reports will be shared with the campus community as soon as they are complete, and I expect to be held accountable for ensuring the findings and recommendations are addressed as soon as possible.
Additionally, imminent changes on the national and state levels—including the U.S. Department of Education’s proposed Title IX reforms and the 20 bills addressing sexual assault filed by Texas State lawmakers—may call for further action plans.
This is not easy work, and culture change does not happen overnight. But I am highly encouraged by the unwavering commitment of UTSA’s leadership, by the work that is already underway, and by the students, faculty and staff who have raised their voices in support of tackling these issues head-on. I believe wholeheartedly in UTSA’s ability to serve as a model learning community, where our core values of respect, integrity and inclusivity are evident in everything we do, and where every individual has the opportunity to thrive.
P.S. Please remember our Safe Campus website is a tremendous resource. It provides a step-by-step guide for reporting if you have experienced or witnessed sexual violence or harassment.