This past February I sent you an email in response to a student letter of concern regarding, among other things, UTC’s resolution of a Title IX-related incident. I asked our then-Title IX Coordinator, now Deputy Title IX Coordinator for Employees and Director of the Office of Equity and Diversity, Dr. Bryan Samuel, to investigate with the help of the UT Office of General Counsel.
I received Dr. Samuel’s report this morning and I would like to share his findings with the campus and some of the changes that have been made since the incident that spurred the investigation.
On January 5th, UTC enacted our Interim Policy on Sexual Misconduct and Relationship Violence (the entire policy is available at http://www.utc.edu/sexual-misconduct/pdfs/interim-policy-sexual-misconduct-and-relationship-violence-jan22015.pdf). The interim policy, which will go before the University of Tennessee Board of Trustees this June, provides detailed information for students, faculty and staff on many topics including, but not limited to, the following:
- Complaint filing, including anonymous complaints.
- Response to retaliation – UTC will take strong action if retaliation were to occur on our campus.
- Notification of Complainants and Respondents at certain stages of the process.
- Explanation of the Complainant’s Rights in cases of Sexual Misconduct and Relationship Violence.
- Guidance regarding time frame of investigations, decisions and appeals.
Dr. Samuel found that the Office of Student Development did not violate UTC’s policies and procedures; however, he did recommend some procedures that will be formally created for use in future cases:
- Guidance for when a complaint is received and how that process works through the Women’s Center.
- Guidance regarding best practices for complaint documentation and file storage.
- Guidance regarding general protocols for investigations.
I agree with the recommendations of Dr. Bryan Samuel and I have specifically charged UTC’s Title IX Coordinator, Stephanie Rowland, with putting into place procedures and protocols that will be used in conjunction with the new policy to ensure that all victims and survivors of sexual misconduct and relationship violence are treated with the utmost respect and compassion.
I want to thank the students who raised this issue, Dr. Bryan Samuel for his thorough investigation and the Office of Student Development for their complete honesty and disclosure. All of us at UTC work hard every day to ensure that ours is a safe and inclusive campus.
Steven R. Angle