UTPD, Title IX offer reporting guides for sexual assault

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The University of Texas Police Department published a sexual assault reporting guide Monday afternoon outlining procedures to follow and authorities to contact in the case of a sexual assault. 

The Title IX office also released a University-wide notice encouraging students to report violations of sexual misconduct.

The reporting guide provides contact information for UTPD in the case that students want to contact police. If a student chooses to contact UTPD, UTPD can facilitate medical assistance, connect the student to an advocate or a counselor and discuss options moving forward, such as a criminal investigation or a Title IX investigation. Contacting UTPD is private and does not require students to pursue criminal charges, according to the guide.

If students do not wish to immediately involve police, UTPD urges them to seek medical attention by undergoing a free sexual assault forensic exam through SAFE Alliance, University Health Services or a local emergency room. 

“Bottom line, we want victims to know just because you call police doesn’t mean you must file charges,” UTPD spokesperson Noelle Newton said. “Our top priority is your health and safety. Let us make sure you are okay physically and emotionally by connecting you to the vast amount of helpful resources on campus.”

UTPD’s guide will be posted in dorms around campus. UTPD worked in partnership with CMHC, Title IX and UHS to make the guide possible. 

The prevalence of sexual assault at UT was brought to light after the 2017 Cultivating Learning and Safe Environments Survey documented findings of sexual assault based on a survey of 7,684 UT undergraduate students. The survey found that 15 percent of women on campus reported being raped.

The Title IX notice urged students to promptly report sexual misconduct. Responsible employees, such as academic advisors, faculty or residence hall advisors, are required to quickly report incidents of sexual misconduct to the Title IX Office and do not serve as confidential reporting resources.

The notice also offered private, non-mandatory reporting options such as University Ombuds or Interpersonal Violence Peer Support. In addition, students can make Title IX reports anonymously or without naming the respondent. 

Title IX has its own comprehensive guide about reporting sexual assault that was published this past June. The guide outlines investigation and resolution processes, offers resources for students reporting sexual assault and provides options if the complainant is an employee.

“It is designed to be a roadmap to navigate the Title IX process at UT-Austin and to be as transparent as possible about what to expect about the rights, options and resources for the parties involved, as well as campus administrations,” said Shilpa Bakre, Title IX communications strategist. 

In addition to campus resources, student-run organizations also offer support for survivors of sexual assault or abuse. 

Jonathan Shaham, the vice president of Not on My Campus, an organization that promotes sexual assault awareness, said he approves of the University promoting resources regarding the prevention and the reporting of sexual misconduct.

“It’s really nice to see that both UTPD and Title IX are on the same wavelength,” Shaham, an electrical engineering senior, said in an email. “I think that there are a lot of students who do not know about the resources at their disposal and this only helps to spread the information.