COLLEGE STATION, Tex. (KBTX) - Texas A&M University announced 11 immediate changes Monday to their policies for handling Title IX investigations and sanctions, specifically with how the University handles sexual misconduct.
These changes come after internal and external reviews of Texas A&M policy following public complaints from students and former students about the way sexual misconduct investigations were handled on campus. These reviews began in June, and Monday marked the first announced changes to University policy.
The policy changes announced Monday include new guidelines for the punishment of offenders that will be utilized in all future disciplinary hearings for students, along with a commitment to continuing reviews and updates to policies.
“We are committed to ensuring student safety, to creating the kind of environment that students can thrive in,” said Texas A&M President Michael K Young.
The University also announced two new task forces Monday. The first will address the immediate changes announced by President Young and possible improvements in cases involving student victims. The second task force will take on staff and faculty guidelines and sanctions related to sexual misconduct.
Texas A&M says the following policy changes will take immediate effect:
1. A new model for sanctioning students found responsible for sexual violence has been created. That model includes a minimum of a yearlong suspension for students found responsible for sexual violence. Texas A&M officials said copies of the model would be available to students online, but would also be posted at reasonable locations throughout campus.
2. New guidelines are now in place for participation in extracurricular activities on behalf of the university. Those found responsible for sexual violence and serving a suspension will now face a permanent removal of eligibility for extracurricular activities and university scholarships.
3. The Dean of Students will now decide interim restrictions during investigations, rather than organizations or teams.
4. Eligibility to return to extracurricular activities will now be decided at the conclusion of the university-led investigation, rather than upon the student’s return to campus.
5. Communications will now be contained to a central site for all resources.
6. Texas A&M’s Title IX office will be enhanced and empowered. Texas A&M plans to redefine the office’s “role, resources and authority.”
7. Along with that enhancement, Texas A&M will hire four additional positions: a Title IX Deputy Coordinator, a case manager and two investigators.
8. One-on-one case managers will now be assigned to assist students throughout the Title IX process.
9. The university plans to expand and better distribute counselors.
10. Additional trainings and communications, such as mandatory reporter, trauma-informed cases and rights and resources will now be offered by the university.
11. Offenders transcripts will be immediately noted and provided to any transferring institutions.
The Texas A&M University System also announced Monday that similar policies would take immediate effect system-wide, including minimum sanctions for Title IX violations, independent processes for returning to extracurricular activities, prohibiting relationships between staff and undergraduate students and mandatory termination of any employee found responsible for sexual harassment.
“This summer I asked the Texas A&M leadership to take the lead in creating the best student conduct policy in the nation and they did an outstanding job,” said Chancellor Sharp. “I am now asking the rest of the System to follow that lead, and I also am expanding the rules to cover sexual harassment involving faculty and staff system-wide.”
In a meeting with media Monday morning, President Young expressed his thanks to those involved in the process for their candor and willingness to work with the University. He furthered that the process was ongoing and more changes and reviews would likely come in the future.
Complete copies of the findings from Husch-Blackwell, who conducted Texas A&M’s external review, and the University’s internal review, were provided to the media and are attached to this story.