At last Friday’s sit-in for student safety, dozens of students protested in front of executive vice president and provost Maurie McInnis’ office demanding answers. Answers to why men who violated sexual misconduct policy are scheduled to teach classes next semester. Answers to why we don’t know the names of every abuser on UT’s payroll. Answers to why it took a student protest to get the University to talk.
The event’s organizers, Alyssa Ashcraft, Anilya Krishnan, Michaela Lavelle and Angela Kang say they were told by Soncia Reagins-Lilly, the dean of students, that there would be an official response sent yesterday — a response to help us answer these questions.
As of publication, that response was never sent. Instead, when a Texan reporter emailed University Communications asking when a response would be sent out, she received this email:
“We are in the midst of developing a response that will be shared over the next few days via an editorial in The Daily Texan. We recognize the urgency for a response and are working quickly to develop a road map to bring about meaningful change to our Title IX reporting, processes and procedures.”
The protest organizers received an email with identical wording from the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost.
The University’s decision to respond via an editorial in the Texan is troubling. I first heard UT’s plan secondhand around 4:00 p.m. yesterday. Their emails imply that we made some sort of deal, that I approve of their editorial.
I don’t. Here’s why:
It is inappropriate for The Daily Texan to be the primary disseminator of official University communications.
It is inappropriate because the Texan does not represent the University. It’s UT’s job to explain to the entire student body why professors who violated sexual misconduct policy are still teaching our classes. Not the Texan’s. Yet, a University spokesperson told me UT leadership decided an editorial in the Texan would “speak to a larger audience.”
I can’t imagine why the University would want to use the Texan, which only reaches a fraction of the student body, when they could reach every student directly via email.
To me, it seems like University administration wants to use the Texan as a way to avoid doing their job. As a way to save face. As a way to minimize the fallout of a problem that is solely their fault.
That is incredibly offensive to me. It’s more offensive to the entire student body who deserves answers, to the survivors of misconduct and harassment who have to attend a University that again and again seems to protect known abusers.
All students deserve to know who the abusers that UT employs are. We deserve answers as to why men found in violation of sexual misconduct policies are still being brought back to teach our classes. We deserve answers as to why it took a protest to make the University finally start talking about this issue.
Let me be clear — I would be happy to be part of an effort to inform the student body about professor misconduct. The editorial board has been doing that for over a year.
But we will not run an editorial for you now. Not until you do your job and let the student body know yourselves why you continue to fail us.
Buckner is a Plan II junior. He is the editor-in-chief.