Dear community members,
Yesterday, we held the first meeting of the Misconduct Working Group. We had a very productive and open conversation and I wanted to give you an update about our discussion and next steps for this group.
- The group began the meeting by discussing the recent protest at a current faculty member’s house. The group discussed the concerns about how we keep people safe who are receiving personal threats, and administrators shared concerns around actions that cross the line and endanger the safety of others.
- A lengthy discussion was had around guiding principles for the group meetings. These principles are intended to inform how information discussed within the meetings is shared, and how a space can be adopted that creates room for open, honest, respectful and candid dialogue. This conversation will be continued at the next meeting so these principles can be agreed upon by the members.
- Group members discussed what their individual goals were for the working group. Several people shared general goals for students to have access to more information about faculty to ensure their safety and to make course decisions, and some stated they would like to see names of faculty who have violated misconduct policies published to inform students. Another general goal shared was a desire to have the university do more to protect students and increase accountability. An additional goal expressed was to build a community understanding about how we build a culture where everyone feels safe, respected and valued equally. It was pointed out that there may not be a national model among universities for dealing with complicated issues of faculty and staff misconduct, but that UT could aspire to be a leader in this area.
- Communication with the campus was also a topic discussed during this meeting. The provost agreed that after today’s meeting, a draft of this update would be shared with the working group for review and input. Some members suggested creating a document that might include the many different perspectives and quotes from members on the working group, an idea that will be explored in future meetings. Information should be shared via multiple channels.
- The student-led forum was also discussed. The provost again confirmed the attendance of the president, provost, Dr. Leonard Moore, and Dr. Soncia Regains-Lilly. The format will be discussed in detail during the next meeting, but the provost confirmed again that students will be able to submit questions in advance and during the event.
- The schedule for future meetings will be soon set, and the working group will meet every two weeks during the spring semester. The working group will seek to share richer detail in future post-meeting communications once the guiding principles are in place.
I look forward to the honest and candid conversations this group will have going forward.
Executive Vice President and Provost