Today, UTSA joined with the University of Texas System in releasing the results of a comprehensive survey exploring the prevalence of sexual harassment, stalking, dating and domestic violence, and unwanted sexual contact among students at UT System institutions. The survey, Cultivating Learning and Safe Environments (CLASE), was conducted in late 2015 and includes the responses of 3,385 UTSA students.
Sexual assault and sexual misconduct are serious problems on college campuses across the United States, and all of us share a responsibility for addressing these issues and ensuring that UTSA students have a safe learning environment.
Here is the reality of the situation at UTSA:
What is equally as troubling is that 75 percent of these incidents went unreported potentially because victims were not aware of the help available to them or felt uncertain about the support they would receive if they reported it, or chose not to say anything because the majority of incidents (approximately 90 percent) occurred off campus. But sexual assault and sexual misconduct are unacceptable no matter where they occur, and we have an obligation to ensure the well being of our students.
I believe even one incident of sexual assault or sexual harassment is one too many. There is no excuse for this behavior. UTSA must have a zero tolerance policy.
While the university already has a number of education, prevention and training programs in place, we clearly need to do more. Today, I have established a campus task force, comprised of faculty, staff and students, to help us develop a comprehensive response to this profound issue. In the weeks ahead, the task force will access the effectiveness of our current initiatives and make recommendations on changes or new programs. I have also charged the task force with developing a strategy to make sexual assault awareness a regular part of our campus culture.
We must lower the prevalence of sexual assault and sexual misconduct involving our students. We must also encourage more reporting of incidents. We need to know what’s happening to our students on and off campus so we can confront the issue head-on.
I am counting on each of you, as leaders at this university, to take a personal stand with me in addressing this problem. Student success, at its very core, is dependent on safety, stability and security. Every student at every university deserves a safe environment where he or she can learn, discover and grow.
I encourage you to read more about the CLASE report and current UTSA programs at www.utsa.edu/today, and share your thoughts on what we all do to improve the campus climate. Likewise, I will stay in touch in the coming days regarding efforts we can all take to keep each other safe.