Dear UT Colleagues and Leaders,
In March, the external firm Husch Blackwell concluded the first phase of its review of UT Austin’s policies on sex discrimination. Husch Blackwell delivered its findings to President Fenves, and he accepted the recommendations outlined in their initial report. Since then, the university has been working diligently — with Husch Blackwell’s help — to revise policies to incorporate the recommendations along with recent Department of Education Title IX regulations. I expect these revised polices to be in effect before the fall semester begins. All of this work reflects the university’s commitment to combatting sex discrimination and making significant improvements to our practices and policies for the benefit of all members of our campus community.
Since March, Husch Blackwell has been conducting the second phase of its review, and members of the firm recently presented me with a list of additional recommendations. As part of this second phase, Husch Blackwell took a deeper look at peer institution Title IX organizational structure and program management.
I have reviewed the latest proposal and will accept Husch Blackwell’s recommendations, which will result in a structural reorganization of UT’s Title IX operations so that they are more effective, efficient and better serve our community.
The structural reorganization will bring about many changes, including:
- A groundbreaking program to provide restorative justice, located in the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement, that is designed to resolve disputes involving issues of equity and inclusion and restore community through mutually agreed resolutions.
- Better coordination and delivery of support services and resources for community members affected by sex discrimination.
- Improved prevention and training programs.
- Expanded responsibilities and resources for UT’s Title IX coordinator.
- The centralization of the investigation and adjudication of discrimination claims, including complaints under the university’s Title IX policy, within University Compliance Services.
These changes, along with the revised policies from the first set of recommendations, are designed to help those who experience sex discrimination receive better support and become more aware of university resources. The changes will also improve UT’s response to reports of sex discrimination from the perspective of reporters, respondents and other affected parties. As a reminder, sex discrimination is an umbrella term that refers broadly to unacceptable behaviors in violation of university policy, including sexual harassment, sexual assault, interpersonal violence (including domestic and dating violence), stalking and sexual exploitation.
I am committed to continuing the university’s work of fighting sex discrimination in all forms and supporting those individuals who are subjected to sex discrimination across campus. I have attached a complete version of Husch Blackwell’s phase 2 report to this email, and you can also download it here. I hope you take time to read it closely.
I look forward to working with you to bring about more positive change during the months ahead.