Our editorial board has been calling on UT to release the names of faculty and staff who have violated sexual misconduct policy for over a year. Protesters have been calling for names for a semester. UT finally released 17.
On Jan. 9, a Daily Texan reporter received a document with 17 names of faculty and staff found in violation of misconduct policy between November 2017 and December 2019 through a Freedom of Information Act request. University Communications had told the reporter the document existed and alerted her when it was available for request. She wasn’t the only one who received the document; the Texan was one of multiple news outlets that published the list that afternoon.
Of the 17 people listed, three are current faculty members — Coleman Hutchison, who is teaching English 350R, Johann Hofmann, who is teaching Biology 382K, and Kevin Dalby, who is teaching Pharmacy 181R and Pharmacy Graduate Studies 196H, a research conference.
Sahotra Sarkar, who has been a target of student protests for his own sexual misconduct violation, is not on this list. His misconduct occurred before the published time frame.
It’s about time students had access to this information. It’s also not enough. For students to be adequately informed about which faculty and staff members are abusers, we need names to be released proactively.
The University won’t guarantee that they will proactively publish the names of new faculty and staff who violate sexual misconduct policy. Director of media relations J.B. Bird said it’s not “the norm in higher education.”
It’s a weak excuse when more transparency means better-informed — and safer — students.
Instead, Bird said via email that UT will wait for feedback from Husch Blackwell, their external advisory group, as well as the Misconduct Working Group and the student-led forum before policy changes are made.
If UT is serious about reforming its policies and practices around misconduct, they’ll need to get serious about being transparent with the student body. Until UT starts proactively publishing names of misconduct violations, we’ll be stuck in the same place we’ve always been: unsure of which professors and staffers have targeted students.
Although we’re happy to see the University is letting news outlets know about documents that can otherwise only be accessed via a FOIA request, they still get to pick and choose how the information is distributed.
This isn’t the first list of misconduct violations UT has made. Bird told our editorial board that a list compiling violations from 2013 to 2017 was given to “media requestors” in late 2017. Texan staffers do not seem to have been alerted about that list at the time, and, as far as we can tell, no outlet has published it in full. This list included Sarkar, whose violations most students didn’t know about until last October.
The University needs to publicize these lists and future lists themselves. The 17 names just released by the University aren’t even on UT’s Misconduct Working Group website, which the University designates as the go-to for information on misconduct policy.
To us, it looks like the University is still afraid to take ownership of the abusers it still employs.
After a semester of protests and talks with administration, we are still only inching toward protecting students from abusers on UT’s payroll. Don’t let small victories distract from the ultimate goal: a University that unapologetically prioritizes student safety.
The editorial board is composed of associate editors Abhirupa Dasgupta, Hannah Lopez, Sanika Nayak, Abby Springs and editor-in-chief Spencer Buckner.
Author's note: The complete list of 17 names (found below) is available by request under the Freedom of Information Act.