Senate passes resolution supporting course schedule removal of professors who violate sexual misconduct policies

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Photo Credit: Conor Duffy | Daily Texan Staff

Members of the Senate of College Councils fast-tracked and passed a resolution Thursday evening that supports removing English associate professor Coleman Hutchison from this fall’s course schedule. 

An investigation by UT’s Office for Inclusion and Equity concluded that Hutchison violated sexual misconduct policies and failed to disclose his relationship with a student.

The Senate resolution also calls for the removal of Sahotra Sarkar, an integrative biology and philosophy professor. Sarkar received a semester suspension in 2017 after making sexual comments to students, the Austin American-Statesman reported last year.

Both Hutchison and Sarkar are currently slated to teach undergraduate courses this fall.

“This legislation seeks, among many things, to address the lack of transparency the University has in regards to professors and faculty and teaching members who are found guilty of sexual misconduct violations or anything above that,” said Ian McEntee, resolution co-author and Liberal Arts Council policy coordinator. 

Additionally, the resolution supports notifying students via email about professors who are found guilty of violating University policies concerning sexual misconduct, sexual harassment or sexual assault. The University of California-Berkeley, which has a similar policy, served as inspiration for this procedure, said McEntee, a humanities and sociology senior. McEntee and the other authors of the resolution want these professors to be named in a database.

 

“University of California at Berkeley has a policy (for) whenever … (there’s) sexual harassment,” McEntee said. “We’re looking to adopt it lower to sexual misconduct and above. They have a policy of issuing a statement to the full student body agreed upon by the person found guilty and the board of, ‘This is what happened, just so y’all are aware.’ We want that.”

Senate president David Jenkins, who was not involved in writing the legislation, said he participated in Hutchison’s English program and said “no one in my program knew anything about this until we were told by outside sources.”

“The University made very much a point to not inform us at all of what was going on with the professor, who was in a position of leadership not just in a faculty position but in (an) administrative one over our program in the English department,” Jenkins said.

Though the University found Hutchison guilty of sexual misconduct, resolution co-author Alcess Nonot said Hutchinson’s actions could qualify as sexual harassment. 

“In Dr. Hutchison’s case, he did have a consensual relationship with a student, and then that student left the University because she felt uncomfortable,” said Nonot, human development and family sciences and biology sophomore. “She basically published — I believe it was an op-ed or something — at the university that she’s at now outlining that he made her very uncomfortable and that was the reason why she left the University, so in that case that would be a violation of sexual harassment laws even though there was a previous consensual relationship.”