University of Texas at Austin students aired their grievances about the school’s sexual misconduct policies to top university leaders during a Monday night forum, the Austin American-Statesman reported.
The 90-minute forum followed months of students calling for changes in how the university deals with faculty members who violate those policies, the newspaper reported. UT recently released the names of 17 staff and faculty members who had been punished for sexual misconduct.
Dozens of students spoke at the forum, including student body president Camron Goodman, who said the forum resulted from students protesting outside the provost’s office all day last fall.
“This right here started back in October, when a group of students, a group of protesters, were tired about how things were going about sexual misconduct at our university,” he said.
Many students said on Monday night they felt an air of indifference among university leaders about sexual misconduct, despite students meeting with administration officials multiple times, the Statesman reported.
UT-Austin President Gregory L. Fenves said the administration is listening to students, which led to the release of the sexual misconduct list and the formation of a working group to examine the issue.
“I think during my five years as president, as we have worked through a number of important issues, the voices of the students are really important,” he said.
But students accused Fenves of lacking empathy, especially after some students tearfully recounted their own stories of being victims of sexual misconduct by university employees.
Students expressed disappointment that some university professors on the sexual misconduct list are still teaching, the newspaper reported. Fenves said whether a faculty member is fired depends on the facts of the case, including the seriousness of the violations.
“When a faculty member that has been found in violation is put back in the classroom, I believe we have made the right decision,” he said.
The Statesman reported that dozens of audience members raised pieces of paper with the word “NO” in response.