Administration: The Education Department’s Office of Civil Rights recently reopened an investigation into this university’s handling of sexual violence acts as a grim reminder that this university has a lot of work to do regarding sexual misconduct. Title IX Officer Catherine Carroll has said her office needs more funding to properly function and investigate sexual misconduct cases in the recommended 60 days.
“We generally lack, and still do to a large extent, the significant infrastructure needed to address these issues and to respond effectively and promptly as we’re required to do under Title IX,” Carroll said while addressing the University Senate in October.
The university announced in the same month the addition of six positions across two offices to address sexual misconduct issues after meeting with the Student Government Association about the group’s proposed $34 annual student fee to aid the office. Administrators said they did not want to pass the burden to the students.
This editorial board understands this issue will not be taken lightly by the administration, but urges further dialogue with a multitude of groups, including Greek Life and the athletic department. SGA President Katherine Swanson told The Diamondback this week that discussing the Education Department lawsuit with administration is a priority, but it’s important that administrators and SGA members continue student outreach to avoid measures that may harm students more than hurt them. It is not enough to reach conclusions that do not involve the input of students they affect.
Student Government Association: This past semester, the SGA announced its intention to create a bill designating this university a sanctuary campus for undocumented students. The designation would protect undocumented students from federal immigration law or deportation.
The push to designate this university a sanctuary campus emerged after President Trump secured his position following months of racist rhetoric toward undocumented immigrants. On Wednesday, he signed executive orders for multiple immigration policies, including constructing the border wall, increasing the amount of immigration officers who carry out deportations and blocking sanctuary cities from federal grants.
University spokeswoman Crystal Brown told The Diamondback in November that this university has 113 students protected under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, and this editorial board urges the SGA to stay committed to protecting all undocumented students through legislation and student and administrative outreach, especially if the Trump administration threatens this university with revoked federal funds.
University Senate: In October, the University Senate supported a report analyzing the diversity of tenured or tenure-track faculty at a school where two-thirds are white. The Provost’s Office and University Senate created a task force over the summer that presented the report to the Senate and proposed creating a post-doctoral program that recruits graduates from underrepresented groups and puts them on a path to becoming professors.
The task force also suggested an initiative where a college at this university can submit a proposal to hire senior faculty from underrepresented groups.
At a school where 68 percent of tenured faculty members are white and 5 percent are black, according to data as of spring 2016, it is vital the University Senate remains committed to the goal of diversifying tenured or tenure-track faculty. Touting this school’s commitment to diversity is not enough when virtually none exists among the professors students learn from every day. Task forces and reports are a good first step. It’s time to take the next one.