AUSTIN – The University of Texas System Board of Regents voted Thursday to revise Regents’ Rules and Regulations to clearly define what constitutes sexual harassment and misconduct and to outline procedures to review complaints.
Acting on the recommendation of the Task Force on Employee/Student Relationships, the board unanimously approved amendments to existing rules that specifically prohibit certain relationships between staff, faculty and students, even when they are consensual. The changes also include defining sexual harassment as unwelcome advances or verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature. Sexual misconduct is defined as behavior that that does not rise to the level of sexual harassment but is also unprofessional and inappropriate for the workplace or classroom.
Formed by regents in November 2012, the Task Force on Employee/Student Relationships was charged with reviewing existing policies and processes across the UT System. Regents adopted the panel’s detailed series of recommendations in December 2013.
“I am confident that we have identified the best practices to address sexual misconduct on campus by creating a policy for all our campuses that does not merely discourage inappropriate relationships but clearly prohibits certain relationships where a real or perceived abuse of power exists,” said Regents Chairman Paul Foster, who also served as chairman of the task force.
Educating students, providing care for patients, conducting groundbreaking research and serving the needs of Texans and the nation for more than 130 years, The University of Texas System is one of the largest public university systems in the United States, with nine academic universities, six health institutions and a fall 2013 enrollment of more than 213,000. The UT System confers more than one-third of the state’s undergraduate degrees, educates two-thirds of the state’s health care professionals annually and accounts for almost 70 percent of all research funds awarded to public universities in Texas. The UT System has an annual operating budget of $14.6 billion (FY 2014) including $3 billion in sponsored programs funded by federal, state, local and private sources. With about 90,000 employees, the UT System is one of the largest employers in the state.