AUSTIN (KXAN) — A new Title IX report from the University of Texas at Austin shows a decrease in the number of reports received in the 2021-22 school year, but the school’s Title IX office says that’s likely due to how people report incidents.
UT Austin’s Title IX office received 1,193 reports during the 2021-22 school year. This is a 16% decrease from the 2020-21 reporting period.
The state-required annual report does not specify the types of reports, such as sexual assault, sexual harassment, dating violence or stalking incidents. All reports feature either an enrolled UT student or UT employee.
Of the total number of reports, 483 were actionable, the report said. 414 complainants sought support and resources and 69 complainants started a formal complaint process with 23 processes completed.
The university’s Title IX coordinator Adriana Alisea-Rodriguez said the lower number is likely due to a decrease in confidential reports and an increase in reports directly to the Title IX office.
This means there may be fewer duplicate reports, such as a complaint being reported to multiple confidential officers. Rodriguez said confidential reports do not include identifying information, so the office cannot see if a complaint has already been reported elsewhere.
The majority of reports (60%) were passed on to confidential officers. These are university-designated people with whom students can talk about incidents without fear of being reported to the Title IX office for investigation.
“We could have had one matter that went to the Title IX office as well as four confidential resources on campus that we may have reported on in the last five different times because we have no way of confirming whether the confidential reports were duplicate reports or not,” Rodriguez explained.
This is the second annual report on Title IX policy changes. In 2020, the UT System Board of Regents revised its sexual harassment policy to comply with the new Title IX regulations. The changes include how hearings are conducted and a requirement that investigators provide a reasonable time frame for completed complaint investigations.
The 2020-21 report was the first reporting period with these changes. This report shows about a 35% increase in complaints over the 2019-20 school year.
“I think in 2021 we had established that all of these recommendations were in place and members of our campus community knew,” Rodriguez said. “So we started getting more reports of individuals who wanted to report the matter to the Title IX office, but we’re not necessarily looking to pursue a complaint process.”
Rodriguez said the office has a dedicated division with resources to assist complainants who are not ready to proceed with an investigation or sentencing process. She said the office has seen an increase in people seeking this type of support.
The office has three improvement goals in its strategic plan, which include:
- To equip and motivate the campus community to establish appropriate norms that reduce incidents of gender discrimination, sexual harassment and sexual violence
- To facilitate the trauma-informed response process for reports submitted to the Office of Title IX
- Increase direct reporting by complainants to the Title IX office