Following town hall, students reflect on problems with sexual misconduct policy

After four protests, many meetings with administrators and UT faculty, and a public town hall event, they are still here. Professors convicted of sexual misconduct are still teaching at UT, and students still do not feel safe. 

Last semester, students organizers held four separate protests calling for the dismissal of two professors found in violation of sexual misconduct policy, Coleman Hutchison and Sahotra Sarkar, as well as greater transparency about faculty found in violation of misconduct policy and the disciplinary process. In addition to these protests, students entered Sarkar’s classroom during a lecture, confronting him about his behavior. 

The Daily Texan began covering this subject in July of 2018 when Hutchison was allowed to continue teaching after being found in violation of UT’s sexual misconduct policies. Among this coverage, the Texan ran multiple editorials calling for administration to be more transparent, for the student body to continue their fight and for stricter misconduct policies

For months, students called for a town hall with administrators to voice their concerns and how sexual harassment, assault and coercion have affected their lives. On Jan. 27, UT administration finally held a town hall event. The small space and police presence, however, limited the town hall’s accessibility for many students.

Non-answers and a lack of empathy from the administration left many students feeling frustrated and unheard, despite their months of organizing events and meeting with administrators.

In this forum, former University Democrats community director and government sophomore Hector Mendez describes the fight to form the Coalition Against Sexual Misconduct and students’ efforts to confront UT professors and administrators.

Women’s and gender studies and advertising junior Lynn Huynh, government and political communications senior Alejandra Zuñiga, and mechanical engineering and government junior Shelby Hobohm of the Coalition Against Sexual Misconduct also detail their motivations and experiences as protest organizers. 

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