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Texas A&M Overhauls Sex Assault Policies

August 28, 2018

After complaints over its handling of sexual assault cases, Texas A&M University has overhauled its policies, making punishments for rape and other sexual misconduct much stricter.

Earlier this month, the institution announced 11 changes around its Title IX policies. Title IX of the Education of the Amendments of 1972 is the federal law barring gender discrimination.

Officials, in an attempt to make the sanctions for sexual misconduct more consistent, approved a “matrix” that determines whether a student will be put on probation, given a warning, suspended or expelled based on the violation. For instance, any student found to be responsible for a violent sex offense, or nonconsensual sex, will be suspended for at least a year.

“We believe that these actions will not only contribute to continual improvement at our university in safety, processes, transparency, fairness and accountability, but will also set a new standard nationally for how Title IX investigations are managed,” President Michael K. Young said in a statement.

In June, Young ordered that the university review its Title IX procedures after a tweet from a student went viral -- the student accused the institution of allowing a varsity swimmer to return to the men’s swimming and diving team after he was found to have sexually assaulted her. The swimmer had been suspended for a semester, the survivor said.

The university will also hire new employees to deal with Title IX cases, including investigators and a deputy Title IX coordinator. The process for reporting will be streamlined to try to minimize the number of times that students will need to recount trauma to officials, with survivors reporting to a single case manager. Counselors who will handle these cases will now be available at multiple areas on campus.

Whether an accused student will be allowed to participate in extracurricular activities, including athletics, now falls to the dean of students, not a coach, team or club -- this includes while a case is still be investigated. A decision on whether a student is eligible for extracurriculars now comes when a determination on the case is made, not after the student returns from a suspension.

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Jeremy Bauer-Wolf

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