New state laws that went into effect this week govern how Texas universities should track, report and punish violations of the federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, the Austin American-Statesman reported.
The goal of the new laws is to provide clearer guidelines on Title IX rules, laying out who on college campuses should be responsible for reporting incidents of stalking, dating violence, sexual harassment and sexual assault. The new laws also create uniform policies for state universities to follow.
Colleges are now required to launch public awareness campaigns and give orientation on sexual misconduct to students.
In addition, all university employees are now required to report violations, whereas only university faculty members had that requirement in the past. Employees who don’t report violations could be fired and subject to criminal charges, the newspaper noted.
“I think that there will be potentially more reports just because of the nature of what is at stake with the consequences of not reporting,” Krista Anderson, Title IX coordinator for the University of Texas System, told the Statesman. “I think if there is anything that could constitute these prohibited behaviors, people are going to call.”
University systems also have a new reporting requirement: an overview of Title IX violations must be presented to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board each semester and be made available online for the public’s perusal. The board could issue a fine of up to $2 million to universities not in compliance.