Failure to fire professors hurts University, threatens students

Harley Gutierrez

The University of Texas at Austin is one of the best in the world. It boasts an astounding number of resources for students to take advantage of while pursuing education. 

The University of Texas at Austin also hides a confounding history of complaints for professors who take advantage of students instead. 

When I attended the 2019 Gone To Texas celebration as a freshman, the excitement was almost overwhelming. 

However, even before I was a student here, I heard rumors of the University’s decision to move a professor accused of sexual misconduct from his position teaching graduate students to teaching undergraduate students.

That professor, Coleman Hutchison, will be teaching a class next semester. 

So will Sahotra Sarkar, another professor found in violation of Title IX. The University of Texas is a public institution of higher education. 

That distinction alone should warrant students’ well-being as a top priority for UT. 

Students deserve a campus with classrooms that serve our best interests. We fuel UT, yet we don’t seem to be valued and protected. 

What good are the resources we have access to if we cannot feel safe utilizing them? 

What purpose do required Sexual Assault Prevention Program Modules have if the University is going to condone harmful acts inflicted upon students anyway? 

Who knows if those designated as mandatory reporters — people who are supposed to educate and facilitate growth — are abusing their status? 

University President Gregory Fenves released a statement on Nov. 7 addressing backlash and protest in recent months and days regarding the University’s lack of action towards removing professors found guilty of sexual misconduct, but you wouldn’t know that from the email.

After the sit-in that took place on Oct. 25,  protesters like myself were told to expect a statement addressing the situation. 

Instead of addressing the situation head-on to its entire population, University officials released a quiet, vague statement to students via email.

We will have to keep fighting to get UT to remove these professors, because the University certainly won’t on its own. 

Professors who are guilty of breaking the ethical rules intended to serve students do not deserve a place teaching these students. 

If we cannot have them removed despite their wrongdoings, we want transparency for the identities of those who have done wrong — not transparent attempts to feign sincerity. 

Inaction is action that defies justice in this scenario, and students will not tolerate it further. 

The University claims “What starts here changes the world,” but we have to assess that change must first come from within. Complicity is not okay. 

Does the University of Texas at Austin as an institution care? 

Gutierrez is a Plan II and psychology freshman.