AUSTIN (KXAN) — St. Edwards University, under fire by students for allegedly favoring an upperclassmen accused of repeated sexual assault, hosted an open discussion on Thursday to ease concerns and address university initiatives.
KXAN will not be reporting the name of the accused student since there are no pending criminal charges against him and he does not have a criminal history.
Students have used the hashtag #YourMoveSEU to express their anger with school administration for using photos of the alleged abuser in their marketing campaign.
A letter written by the Student Government Association said they will now consider a “conduct release form” which ensures the students being used in advertising materials are in good standing with the university.
A spokesperson for the university said students can report sexual harassment to university police, the Austin Police Department or to the dean of students.
A conduct reporting form allows students to voice their needs. Confidentiality is offered but the school administration tells students it’ll hurt their ability to follow up.
In the case of the accused student, the spokesperson said there were no reports made to university police and any reports made to the dean are protected.
St. Edwards said they have in place immediate responses for those who report sexual abuse and harassment, including counseling, issuing “no-contact orders,” and re-working schedules between the two parties.
A full investigation will be launched and an on campus hearing will be conducted, if needed.
Thursday’s meeting will include the Vice President of Student Affairs and Title IX Coordinator Dr. Lisa Kirkpatrick, the Dean of Students Steven Pinkenburg, University Police Commander Homer Huerta and a Health and Counseling Coordinator.
Students come forward
KXAN spoke to an upperclassmen, under the promise of anonymity, about the reporting process at St. Edwards.
She said a fellow student repeatedly harassed her during her freshman year, but never reported it because she didn’t think her claims would hold up against his.
“As a girl, you know how these things work, especially when you are in a university,” the student said. “I want them to take victims seriously and actually go and investigate.”
She said she would have felt more comfortable if she knew her complaint was going to someone not affiliated with the school, like the Austin Police Department.
“We want more. We want action,” the student said. “The more people that come out, the safer other victims feel to come out.”
Sexual Misconduct at UT
The University of Texas is making changes to address how it handles sexual misconduct allegations.
First, a group of students and staff members will identify ways the university can improve on handling sexual misconduct. Their recommendations will be made in April.
UT is also hiring three new investigators for its Office for Inclusion and Equity. They will investigate complaints against faculty members.
An outside firm will review the university’s Title IX and sexual misconduct policies.
This comes after state lawmakers passed Senate Bill 212. It increases the requirements for universities to report incidents of sexual misconduct.