Student Government passed a resolution to uphold current Title IX policies and reject changes presented by Betsy DeVos, U.S. Secretary of Education, in a meeting Tuesday night.
Ian McEntee, Academic Affairs Policy co-director, said DeVos’s changes included a limited definition of harassment that would result in further underreporting and a requirement that Title IX violations occur on campus. 87 percent of filed Title IX incidents took place off campus, McEntee said.
“A lot of people … including the president of the University himself, took issue with one (change) that would allow for the cross examination of the accuser by the accused … in person,” McEntee said.
During a 60-day period that ended in late January, when people across the United States could comment on the Title IX changes, the federal government received more than 100,000 comments, said Isabella Fanucci, Interpersonal Violence Prevention Policy co-director. She said the changes were “deemed to be pretty much detrimental to survivors’ rights.”
“This (number of comments) is nearly unprecedented, and this should reiterate that there’s nationwide demand that universities reject the proposed changes and adhere to current Title IX policies,” Fanucci said.
In addition, first-year representative Ashish Dave and business honors sophomores Ethan Jones and Marshall Comeaux pushed for improved financial literacy programs for UT students with Resolution 12.
“Roughly half of undergraduate students in America are financially independent from their parents,” Dave, a business honors, Plan II and finance freshman, said. “In addition, financial illiteracy has lifelong repercussions for students. 38 percent of U.S households have credit card debt, and 44 percent of student loan borrowers are not making payments on their loans. These are serious statistics, and it’s up to us to take a proactive approach and fix it.”
Dave proposed financial literacy seminars for students, as the current seminars held by UT are for parents. The resolution, which was referred to the financial affairs committee, also aims to improve Bevonomics.
“This bill seeks to combine ideas that we’ve come up with by surveying students among a focus group … with the Office of Financial Aid to start seminars during April, which is financial literacy month,” Dave said. “So our goal is to have students as financial literacy ambassadors that can go out, recruit other students and bring them to seminars taught by local professionals and by professors who are interested.”
Hussain Alkhafaji, Academic Policy Committee chair for the Senate of College Councils, spoke on behalf of Joint Resolution 7, which was referred to the Student Affairs Committee. The joint resolution aims to reach out to uninsured students about an opportunity to receive medical care through the Medical Access Program. Alkhafaji said he was advised by Kathy Mosteller, associate director for nursing and clinical operations, to have University Health Services detail the program during their presentation for incoming freshmen and their parents. He was also encouraged to work directly with Texas Parents Association in order to inform families of the program.
“The resolution is primarily intended to create a strategic communications procedure for University Health Services to use here and going on into the future to target students … falling between not having health insurance through primary coverage given through their parents or federal programs,” Alkhafaji said.