As we begin a new academic year, I want to reiterate the University of Tennessee’s commitment to creating and sustaining a living, learning, and working environment that is free from sexual misconduct, relationship violence, stalking, and retaliation.
With feedback from faculty, staff, and students, we have made improvements to our policy. In addition to those improvements, our university has committed $700,000 in additional recurring funds to add staff in the Office of Equity and Diversity, the Center for Health Education and Wellness, and UT Athletics; fund training; and cover other costs associated with preventing sexual assault and educating the campus community about this issue.
I want to highlight a few of the changes and encourage you to become familiar with our policy on sexual misconduct, relationship violence, stalking, and retaliation and the resources on our sexual assault website.
We have made several updates to the policy that are now effective. Among those:
- Language now reflects the reassignment of sexual assault investigative functions to the Office of Equity and Diversity’s Title IX staff. This change ensures a clearer delineation between the fact-finding activities and the disciplinary functions carried out by the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards.
- Faculty remain mandatory reporters, but updated language clarifies that they are no longer required to report prohibited conduct if a student has disclosed it through a written academic assignment. In such a situation, faculty and staff are encouraged to inform the student about care and support options, as well as options on how to report the incident to the university or to law enforcement. All other reports of sexual misconduct fall under the mandatory reporting obligation, and faculty should contact 974-HELP (4357) or the Office of Equity and Diversity at 865-974-2498.
These changes and staff additions have been made to increase access to care and support for complainants, to enhance investigations and resolutions of reports about prohibited conduct, to clarify reporting options for students, and to grow our ongoing campus-wide prevention efforts.
It is important that all students, faculty, or staff who experience sexual misconduct, relationship violence, or stalking know their options for reporting an incident to the university and to law enforcement. In the event an individual doesn’t want to report an incident, the policy outlines a number of university and community resources that can provide confidential care and support.
I look forward to continuing a campus-wide dialogue about this issue and working together to reduce all forms of sexual misconduct.
If you have questions about the policy or related topics, please contact me at 865-974-2498 or get in touch with any of the contacts found on the campus and community resources list on the website.
Associate Vice Chancellor and Title IX Coordinator