New Texas law on Title IX takes effect

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New Texas law on Title IX takes effect

UTEP is affected by these bills which were passed during the Texas legislative session earlier this year.

UTEP is affected by these bills which were passed during the Texas legislative session earlier this year.

Claudia Hernandez

UTEP is affected by these bills which were passed during the Texas legislative session earlier this year.

Claudia Hernandez

Claudia Hernandez

UTEP is affected by these bills which were passed during the Texas legislative session earlier this year.

Bryan Mena, Entertainment Editor

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Texas Senate Bill 212 relating to Title IX, the 1972 federal statute on sex discrimination and sexual harassment, enhances reporting requirements for Title IX violations.   

Considered one of the tightest campus safety measures in the nation by the Dallas Observer, SB 212, penalizes university employees with misdemeanor criminal offenses if they do not report Title IX violations to their respective coordinator or deputy coordinators. The bill went into effect about a month ago.  

In the 86th Texas legislative session, Sen. Joan Huffman filed SB 212 “relating to a reporting requirement for certain incidents of sexual harassment, sexual assault, dating violence, or stalking at certain public and private institutions of higher education; creating a criminal offense; authorizing administrative penalties,” according to the bill’s official caption text.  

Toward the end of session, Gov. Greg Abbott signed Huffman’s bill into law June 14, effective Sept. 1. 

UTEP’s Title IX coordinator is Sandy Vasquez, associate vice president for human resources, along with UTEP administrators Catie McCorry-Andalis, Beatriz Tapia, and Charlie Gibbens as deputy coordinators.  

“(College employees) are required to report those offenses. If someone doesn’t, and it has to be in the scope of their work, then they will be terminated,” McCorry-Andalis said. “At the same time, they could potentially face a class A or class B misdemeanor from police action towards them.”  

Stephanie Marquez, 21-year-old UTEP student, said that it is common for victims of sexual assault to open up about their experience with a professor and is usually their way of reporting it.   

“They may not have the guts to report it to the police because it’s hard, so if they tell a professor that they trust, then that may mean they want the police to know about it, too,” Marquez said.  

According to the American Association of University Women (AAUW), schools grossly underreport sexual harassment and assault with 89 percent of college campuses reporting zero incidents of rape in 2016 nationwide. AAUW analyzed data reported under the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act (Clery Act) of 1990.   

The Clery Act requires institutions of higher education to monitor, track and report data on criminal incidents on-campus to the U.S. Department of Education. Clery Act reports should also be publicly available online.  

UTEP released its Annual Security and Fire Safety Report Oct. 1 detailing crime on campus, complying with the Clery Act.  

Since 2016, there have been 12 rape cases, five cases of fondling, two cases of statutory rape, three cases of domestic violence, 16 cases of dating violence and 40 cases of stalking at UTEP. The university has a student enrollment of more than 25,000 students.   

“I am very pleased that, as an institution, we have a low rate of incidents that fall under sexual harassment and sexual misconduct compared to other data that is reported by colleges and universities,” McCorry-Andalis said. “But still, one is too many.”  

For more information on Title IX, visit utep.edu/TitleIX 

Bryan Mena may be reached at [email protected] 

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