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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Photo by Via Texas A&M University

Eleven actions were approved by President Michael K. Young regarding the sexual assault reporting process at Texas A&M University. 

Texas A&M is taking actions on its Title IX sexual misconduct reporting and review processes after reviewing recommendation from internal and external task forces.
Among the changes are the addition of more personnel and a procedure for noting offenses on student transcripts. President Michael K. Young, provost & executive vice president Carol Fierke, senior vice president & chief marketing and communications officer Amy Smith and task force committee chairs met with local media for a briefing on the university’s course of action. Eleven actions were approved on Aug. 20 and are now in place.
One of the university’s actions is to create a more clear, unified path to report sexual assault. The previous process allowed survivors to report to any university staff member, according to Dr. Robin Means-Coleman, internal task force chairperson and vice president and associate provost for diversity. Depending on which reporting avenue they chose, this often required survivors to tell their story multiple times. The new approach seeks to limit the number of times a survivor has to recount a painful or traumatic experience.
“What is a strength is also complicated and that is we have a number of intake points where one can report what has happened to them…” Means-Coleman said. “That might be through counseling services, it might be a faculty member, it might be a roommate. We worked hard to then talk about how many times does a survivor have to tell their story? How can we make that more comfortable and trauma-informed for a survivor?”
The task force committees heard from university staff members and sexual assault survivors before making their recommendations. Young said the insight of individuals impacted by these policies was crucial to the decision-making process.
“We very much appreciate the work that the Aggie-led sexual assault advocacy group did both to highlight what the concerns are, but the candor with which we were able to analyze this and look at issues was extraordinarily helpful,” Young said. “In the course of all that work really identified some principle areas with respect to which we really thought we could make significant improvements.”
When making recommendations, the internal task force made it clear that “representing the university in extracurricular activities is a ‘privilege’ not a ‘right.’” The president’s approved actions call for the Dean of Students, not an organization or team, to decide interim restrictions. Additionally, decisions for eligibility to return to participation in extracurricular activities will be made upon investigation findings, not upon return from suspension.
“Our decision there is to determine that at the sanctioning moment, not leave those determinations for later,” Young said. “Not necessarily leave those, for example, participation on an athletic team, not leave that up to the coaches, but rather that’s determined, at least in the first instance, at the sanctioning level as well.”
Fierke said it is crucial to keep the university’s core values in mind when handling sensitive situations and working to maintain the safety of students.
“The most important thing is that we, the leadership and everyone at Texas A&M must continue to aspire to live our Aggie core values in all that we do and all that we are,” Fierke said. “Our primary concern is the safety and ability for all of our members of our community to thrive on campus and so that is really our goal moving forward.”

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    Photo by Cassie Stricker

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