Adriana Alicea-Rodriguez will be the new associate vice president and Title IX coordinator, the University announced in an email Friday morning.
Alicea-Rodriguez will begin work as the coordinator Monday, according to the University-wide email. She previously worked as UT’s director of Title IX trainings and investigations and at UT-San Antonio in residence life and student conduct, according to the email.
The Title IX coordinator works as the main correspondent for the office and meets with students when they file a sexual harassment or discrimination complaint. Alicea-Rodriguez said in the email that shaping an environment for student academic and personal development forms the core of her work.
“(I have) a great desire to create a safe, healthy, inclusive and developmental environment for all students,” Alicea-Rodriguez said in the email.
The previous Title IX coordinator, Krista Anderson, left the position in May to become the UT System Title IX coordinator. Latoya Smith has been the interim coordinator since May while the University evaluated candidates to fill the position.
Chief compliance officer Leo Barnes said Alicea-Rodriguez’s career, which also includes membership in various University committees related to Title IX, has given her the experience for this position.
“Adriana has faithfully served students in higher education for over a decade,” Barnes said in the email.
Students and faculty met the finalists for the position, Alicea-Rodriguez and Donna Reddix, at the open meetings for the Title IX finalists held Aug. 19 and 20. During the meeting, Alicea-Rodriguez said she wanted to listen to student and faculty experiences to improve the office.
“We need to focus on the impact, not the intent,” Alicea-Rodriguez said. “If you come and talk to me about what happened, I’m not going to try and talk you out of your experience. I’m going to listen.”
Students such as Sara Ross, Student Government interpersonal violence prevention policy co-director, attended the meeting and highlighted a lack of trust in the Title IX office as a key issue for them at the meetings. Ross said the office’s biggest problem is not accounting for the impact of investigations on students.
As The Daily Texan previously reported, Ross said she had to see the person who sexually assaulted her every week because they shared a class, despite having a no contact directive. She eventually switched out of the class.
“It very much feels like (the Title IX office was) just checking things off the list,” Ross said. “They’re not aware they’re changing, and sometimes ruining, lives with the stuff they’re doing wrong.”
Ross said the office needs to be open about their past mistakes and start listening to student feedback. During the meeting, Alicea-Rodriguez said she would work to improve the student body’s relationship with the office.
“The program is only going to be successful if we have an accurate understanding of the experiences of the students who go through it,” Alicea-Rodriguez said. “That’s the only way that we can grow.”
Ross said she feels optimistic about change within the office with Alicea- Rodriguez as the coordinator.
“If I didn’t believe it was possible for Title IX to redeem itself, I wouldn’t put in all this mental, emotional effort,” Ross said.