As colleges and universities across the United States grapple with the issue of sexual assault and misconduct on campus, The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) continues to take steps to address the matter head on.
UTSA first recognized more than a decade ago that intimate and interpersonal violence was a national issue that warranted a proactive and multi-faceted approach to ensure the well being of students. As a result, it became one of the first Texas universities to incorporate sexual assault reporting and investigations into its Title IX policies and to develop a comprehensive series of education, training and awareness initiatives aimed at decreasing the prevalence of sexual misconduct and sexual assault on and off campus. Today, the university provides more than 40 initiatives and educational events for students, faculty and staff.
Most recently, UTSA collaborated with the University of Texas System in the first in a series of student surveys exploring the prevalence of sexual harassment, stalking, dating violence, domestic violence, and unwanted sexual contact on UT System campuses. The survey, Cultivating Learning and Safe Environments (CLASE), is now available.
“Every student at every university deserves a safe environment where they can learn, discover and grow,” said UTSA Interim President Pedro Reyes. “UTSA has a long-standing commitment to confronting this profound social justice issue and we will continue to use every resource available to us to ensure the well-being of our students.”
The CLASE report is the most comprehensive survey of sexual assault and misconduct ever undertaken by an institution of higher education. Thirteen of the UT System’s 14 institutions participated in the survey of students’ personal experiences, perceptions and awareness of sexual misconduct. More than 28,000 students from UT System institutions responded to the survey, including 3,385 UTSA students.
Students were asked to self-report their experiences in five key areas and may have responded in more than one category.
“As unacceptable as sexual assault and sexual harassment are, it is equally unacceptable to be silent on these issues. We intend to shed light on sexual misconduct and take meaningful steps to protect our students on and off campus,” said Reyes. “There will be zero tolerance at UTSA.”
In response to the findings of the CLASE survey, Reyes has called for the immediate formation of a campus task force, comprised of faculty, staff and students, to assess the effectiveness of the university’s current 40-plus programs, and to identify the need for new programs or approaches to reduce incidence rates and increase reporting rates. Reyes has also charged the task force with ensuring that initiatives are integrated into daily campus life to reinforce appropriate behaviors and raise awareness of programs and support services offered to victims.
UTSA has already identified additional priority and long-term action items that complement existing initiatives and further build a comprehensive array of training, education and awareness resources.
Because many students who experience sexual harassment or sexual assault do not seek help and the support they need to recover, UTSA is developing counseling programs designed to eliminate the stigma associated with victimization and to encourage reporting.
To address sexual misconduct and sexual assault among the university’s LGBTQ students, UTSA has implemented the ALLY anti-discrimination program, which trains faculty, staff and students to serve as advocates for LGBTQ students in creating safe and welcoming environments.
Collaborating with the UTSA Office of International Programs, the university is developing Title IX and Campus SaVE training programs in multiple languages to aid in international student education and awareness.
Additionally, the university will participate in a second CLASE survey, conducted in conjunction with the UT System, in 2018.
More information about UTSA's education, training and awareness programs are available in the links below.