UT students protest over professors’ reported sexual misconduct allegations

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — Dozens of students at the University of Texas at Austin participated in a sit-in protest outside of Provost Maurie Mclnnis’ office at the university’s main building on Friday.

Students held signs and chanted “We believe survivors” outside of the office doors, demanding that the university be more transparent and accountable when it comes to sexual misconduct violations committed by professors.

This comes after protest organizers say two professors from the College of Liberal Arts were found guilty of sexual misconduct by the university and are still employed to teach undergraduate courses. Students also say that they were not informed by the university about the professors’ reported behavior.

“A lot of the information that we found were from outside sources,” protest organizer Anilya Krishnan said. “The university itself does not have any documentation about these cases.”

A resolution calling for the removal of the two professors was passed yesterday by the Senate of College Councils.

The resolution states English professor, Coleman Hutchinson violated the university sexual misconduct policy by failing to report a relationship with a student. The resolution also says Coleman was charged with making sexual comments to graduate students.

The resolution also lists Integrative Biology and Philosophy professor Sahotra Sarkar. It states that Sarkar violated the university’s Title IX policy after complaints were made of him suggesting students pose for nude photos.

Both of these professors are scheduled to teach multiple courses for the upcoming spring semester.

With registration opening next week, students took to social media warning others not to enroll in those classes.

The university says it was made aware of allegations made against Coleman and Sarkar and took proper action.

“Both professors that were referenced today were thoroughly investigated by UT’s Office for Inclusion and Equity when the allegations surfaced,” UT Communication Strategist Shilpa Bakre said in a statement to KXAN. “The investigations did reveal policy violations. When those findings were rendered, each of the professors completed the sanctions required for their reinstatement.”

KXAN has filed a public records request to find out exactly what policies were violated and what sanctions the professors completed to be reinstated — but has not yet received those records.

Students at Friday’s sit-in say they want to be informed by the university when professors are found guilty of violating sexual misconduct policies for their own safety.

“Currently if you want information on whether or not a professor has been found guilty of misconduct of any kind, you have to submit a Freedom of Information Act request,” protest organizer Alyssa Ashcraft said. “There is no reason that students shouldn’t have access to that information.”

UT says that it heard student concerns and takes their safety as a top priority.

“We take misconduct seriously and investigate every complaint that is reported,” Bakre said. “We urge students to report any misconduct that impacts them.”

KXAN has also reached out to both Coleman and Sarkar for comment, but have not heard back yet.

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