Jennifer Hammat

Photo Credit: Stephanie Tacy | Daily Texan Staff

State lawmakers are working to set state guidelines for how universities handle sexual assault. 

The House gave initial approval Monday to a bill requiring universities to set definitions of sexual assault and sanctions for violations, present an orientation presentation on sexual assault and layout response and reporting protocols. The bill, proposed by  Rep. Alfonso Nevárez (D-Eagle Pass) would also mandate that universities create a web page dedicated to reporting findings on sexual assault and sharing resources with students, faculty and staff. 

Jennifer Hammat, associate vice president of University Compliance Services, said UT currently meets most of the requirements laid out in the bill through requirements set in the Clery Act, a federal mandate that requires universities to report sexual assault cases that occur on campus.

“What the Clery Act does not do is cause review every year from the universities and also include these in orientations for universities,” Nevárez said. 

The University does not meet the requirement for a stand-alone website, but Hammat said it is in the process of creating one.

“If Texas wants to be against relationship violence, against sexual violence — I support that,” Hammat said. “There are always going to be redundancies, … but it does look like they’ve at least said, … ‘the state is going to hold you accountable.’”

UT had a total of 21 sexual assault cases and a combined 90 cases of dating violence, domestic violence and stalking on campus in 2013, the most recent year with available sexual assault information for UT. 

A number of cases go unreported because of multiple factors, including embarrassment or stigma attached to sexual assault, Hammat said. 

“For every person that is experiencing sexual assault, the way they process that information is very different. … This is not something people like to talk about, so oftentimes, they do not report it,” Hammat said.

Victims of sexual assault have the option to report attacks to the University of Texas Police Department or other University entities, UTPD spokeswoman Cindy Posey said. 

“If they want to report it to the police and possibly file charges, they can,” Posey said. “If they don’t, then they can just report it to UT, and UT will handle it internally.” 

Hammat said the University works to provide resources for sexual assault and sexual harassment online through campus organizations. Resources on campus include Student Emergency Services and Voices Against Violence.

Jane Bost, associate director at UT Counseling and Mental Health Services, thinks the new goal of focusing on these issues is a great thing for the University.

Photo Credit: Marshall Tidrick | Daily Texan Staff

Updates to federal laws have prompted a more focused response to domestic violence, dating violence and stalking crimes on campus, according to a University official.

According to Jennifer Hammat, institutional Title IX coordinator and assistant vice president for student affairs, universities are now required to report these crimes because of changes made this year to the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act, a federal law that deals with crimes like sexual assault or other violent acts against women, and the Clery Act, which requires colleges to keep and disclose information about crime on and near
their campuses.

Under the updated laws, this year the University reported domestic violence, dating violence and stalking crimes for 2013 in its Annual Security Report for the first time.

In an email, Hammat said the statistics in this year’s report are a general attempt by the University to collect data, but, in the future, all U.S. colleges and universities will be required to report on these crimes.

“The recent updates … mandated that the University make a ‘good faith effort’ to report on domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking for the 2014 report,” Hammat said. “The Clery Act language has now been revised to reflect that all colleges and universities report on these crimes going forward.”

The report states that 15 counts of dating violence, 25 counts of domestic violence and 36 stalking incidents happened on or near campus last year.

Hammat said the University is also working to provide training for students and employees about issues of violence and has increased the number of mandated reporters, or people who are required to report a crime if it is told to them, on campus.

“We have increased the number of Campus Security Authorities on campus from around 250 people to just under 2,000 people,” Hammat said. “The hope is that if a student tells someone in authority (a supervisor, an academic advisor, the police, an administrator) the more likely the crime can be reported. Once it is reported, that provides us an opportunity to assist the employee or student with resources [and] support.”

Jane Bost, associate director of prevention and outreach services at UT Counseling and Mental Health Services, said she thinks updated laws, such as these, and an increased focus in the media have played a big role in raising awareness of domestic and dating violence.

“In the past 13 years, I have never seen a time where there has been this much focus on these issues, which is wonderful,” Bost said. “I think it really started with the White House task force report last year, and then there were these changes [that] are really getting people’s attention. Certainly, when you talk about opinion leaders, like sports figures and athletes … it brings more attention.”

Last summer, the CMHC worked with other campus organizations to get a definition of consent included in the sexual assault policy and created a Title IX resource guide for survivors that provides information and options about services the CMHC offers, Bost said. 

Erin Burrows, prevention and outreach specialist at Voices Against Violence, said events such as Relationship Violence Prevention Month in October and the Be An Anchor fundraiser event this month have also raised awareness of relationship violence.

“We work with student organizations to raise awareness and fund raise for the Emergency Survivors Fund,” Burrows said. “Last year, we had 25 student organizations that raised over $8,000 from October to April.”

Bost said the University will continue its efforts to provide resources on these crimes, but the new reporting guidelines are a step in the right direction.

“We can always improve, but I really think we’re meeting and exceeding in these efforts,” Bost said.

Jalah Goette  
Texas Student Media director

Photo Credit: Lawrence Peart | Daily Texan Staff

Jalah Goette, director of Texas Student Media, announced Friday that she will be stepping down from her position at the end of January.

TSM oversees The Daily Texan, Texas Student TV, KVRX radio, Cactus Yearbook and Texas Travesty, a humor publication.

“I have enjoyed my time with Texas Student Media and have appreciated the opportunity to work with you and the many other students that have been associated with TSM,” Goette said in an email to student managers and editors. “After eight years, it is time for me to move on to take the next step in my career.”

Jennifer Hammat, assistant vice president for student affairs and the person who oversees the director position, said currently there is no timeline to appoint an interim director.

Goette became interim director in March 2012 and was appointed by the TSM Board of Operating Trustees as permanent director in November 2012. Goette stepped in during a period of controversy when former director Gary Borders said he was forced to resign by the University after discussing the possibility of selling the TV station’s federal operating license. Before that, Goette — a UT alumna — had served in various roles at the organization including as the assistant director overseeing advertising and business operations.

“I want to thank Jalah Goette for her eight years of service to Texas Student Media, where she has been a vital asset to the organization,” said Dave Player, third-year law student and president of the TSM board. “We wish her all the best in her next endeavor.”

Goette’s resignation will mark the fourth change in the director position in four years. Hammat, who served as interim director from October 2009 to June 2011, said the University will likely take a close look at the job description of the position before moving forward.

“Clearly, the way we’ve structured it hasn’t yielded us longevity,” Hammat said.

Currently, TSM is tackling a number of potential changes in its structure. The entity is housed in the Division of Student Affairs, though since earlier this semester, there have been discussions about possibly moving it to the Moody College of Communication. Hammat said Roderick Hart, dean of the Moody College, has been notified of Goette’s resignation but said no decisions have been made, and that the next seven weeks before Goette leaves will give the University some time to think about the best next step.

“If we’re looking for the right administrative home for TSM, then we need to make sure we’re talking to the [Moody College],” Hammat said. “We need to at least give it enough time to breathe so we can formulate what the options are.”

Last year, TSM offset a $190,000 shortfall in revenue by dipping into its reserve funds. The board will be setting a budget in March for the 2014-15 fiscal year and asked Goette in November to come up with two budget plans: one that maintains the status quo and one that makes several changes to the current structure. Hammat said she still hopes to see preliminary budget plans before Goette leaves.

Ian Reese, Texas Student TV station manager, said he enjoyed working with Goette in his current capacity and felt that she communicated well with students and staff. Reese said her resignation comes at an inopportune time as he feels the organization is in need of leadership and a point person on budget issues.

“It brings up the question on what the game plan is now on how TSM is going to operate in the next year,” Reese said.

Player said the board will continue developing a new business plan.

“We are excited for what the future has to offer for our student media,” Player said.

Cool things and thanks

The semester is just about over, but that isn't stopping the Texan staff from producing really cool stuff! Take a look at the "40 Acres and Beyond" feature on the front page of the paper and on the website. Great work that wasn't happening at the Texan before.

Also check out Ahsika Sanders' story about a fraternity hosting Hope Week. In the wake of the Roundup controversy, I think it's great that the Texan is covering positive aspects of Greek life. 

And then there's Tamir Kalifa's outstanding photo package on a day in the life of Israeli soldiers. The strong stuff just keeps on coming! One more day!

I also want to take a moment to thank Jennifer Hammat, interim director of Texas Student Media, for all she's done since stepping in to straighten out a tough situation at TSM. It hasn't always been easy, and we continue to face many challenges, but Jennifer made it possible to do good work despite all that jazz. All the best as we all move forward.

Kevin Hegarty, University vice president and chief financial officer, admitted a “flat out failure” in communication between the University and Texas Student Media Board of Trustees prior to former TSM director Gary Borders’ Feb. 8 resignation.

Hegarty, who was appointed to replace Vice President of Student Affairs Juan Gonzalez in dealing with the matter of Borders’ resignation, discussed the situation during a TSM board meeting on Feb. 27. During the meeting, the board met with Hegarty and Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs Jennifer Hammat to discuss events resulting in the resignation, which Borders said was forced by Gonzalez because of his proposal suggesting the sale of the broadcast licenses of TSTV and KVRX as one option to balance the TSM budget.

Gonzalez and Hammat began discussing Borders’ termination on Jan. 25 due to disatisfaction with his leadership and lack of clarity and direction in his budget setting plans.

TSM board president Lindsey Powers said board members were not notified about the vice president’s office’s disatisfaction with Borders’ performance or his proposal to sell TSTV and KVRX.

“There was a failure in communication not just between the University and the TSM Board of Trustees, but it sounds like there was also a failure between the trustees [not involved] and the trustees involved,” Hegarty said. “There was a flat-out failure in communication.”

The TSM Board of Trustees and the Office of Student Affairs jointly oversee TSM decisions, and Powers said many TSM board members are frustrated that a proposal was discussed without their knowledge, after which Borders was allegedly forced to resign without consulting the TSM board.

“I understand decisions like this require an official discussion, but that’s why we have meetings,” Powers said. “If there are any issues that need to be brought up, they need to be brought up immediately at the meeting so we know what to expect. We need to get that information out there.”

KVRX station manager Travis Bubenik said it is imperative that students have a say in an enterprise which claims to be run by students in its title.

“I want to stress that the desire for full communication extends from our vice president’s office all the way down to our offices and our staff,” Bubenik said. “It’s TSM for Texas Student Media so I do think it’s important that these kinds of ideas should be talked about and discussed at board meetings, especially because they will be affecting us.”

Hammat said there was a lack of communication because she and Gonzalez gave Borders a day to make a decision to resign or be terminated, so they were unprepared when he resigned during the meeting. Hammat said the quick decision left no time to inform the TSM board.

“I’m sorry we didn’t hold a meeting [with the TSM board],” Hammat said. “That was my mistake. When we held the meeting with Gary on Feb. 8, I genuinely believed we were going to have a meeting the next day. In situations like this, people do not usually make a decision to resign so quickly, so we were caught off guard.”

A TSM board meeting is scheduled for March 7 to appoint an acting TSM director who will fill the position until a permanent director is hired. The board will set its next budget at a March 19 meeting.

Printed on Tuesday, February 28, 2012 as: UT failed to communicate in resignation Hegarty says

As the Texas Student Media Board of Trustees meets this morning to discuss specific issues regarding the circumstances surrounding the recent resignation of director Gary Borders, the organization also faces ongoing repercussions of financial and staffing problems that have accumulated over the past few years.

A budget deficit, falling advertising revenue and recurrent vacancies in critical leadership roles are affecting TSM’s ability to operate. While budget deficits and falling advertising revenue are problems that plague college media nationwide, some problems may have arisen from TSM’s unique structure.

“No other collegiate media entity that I am aware of has a governing board and University reporting [requirement],” said Jennifer Hammat, assistant vice president of student affairs and a former interim director of TSM.

A board of operating trustees governs TSM, which is not independent of UT. Its entities include The Daily Texan, TSTV, KVRX 91.7 FM, The Cactus Yearbook and The Texas Travesty, a humor publication. The director of TSM reports to both the vice president of student affairs and the TSM board of trustees. The Declaration of Trust for the organization states an endowment of $5 million would allow TSM to become an independent entity, but unless such an endowment is made, TSM employees are considered employees of the University.

The involvement of the Office of Student Affairs in employment matters has become a source of conflict at TSM in recent days. Borders told the Texan that Juan Gonzalez, the outgoing vice president of student affairs, forced his Feb. 8 resignation after Borders raised the ideas of selling TSM’s television and radio licenses. Gonzalez said he followed policy involving university personnel performance with regard to Borders’ resignation.

Wanda Cash, associate director of the School of Journalism and former TSM board member, said personnel performance issues were previously handled much differently, including when she was on the board.

“If there were performance issues, the vice president of student affairs contacted me, and then in consultation with the president of the board we worked out what had arisen,” Cash said. “This time that did not happen and that’s what is very troubling. The vice president of student affairs acted alone in terminating the director.”

Board member Tim Lott, vice president of audience strategy for the Cox Media Group, said the board was unaware there was a problem with Borders’ performance.

“I literally had no idea there was any sort of problem that could potentially end in a termination,” Lott said.

Borders was the third director TSM had seen in as many years. Kathy McCarty departed TSM in 2009 after serving 15 years. Hammat served as the interim director for nearly two years and participated in one failed search for a replacement until Borders was hired in summer 2011 after a second search. The board will discuss the possibility of appointing a an interim TSM director this morning.

Meanwhile, the search has not yet begun for a replacement for Jennifer Rubin, former multimedia adviser who departed in October 2011 after six months on the job.

Board member Mark Morrison, a lecturer in the journalism school, said it’s imperative a replacement is found quickly.

“We need to establish leadership,” Morrison said.

While facing absent leadership, TSM has a March 19 budget deadline looming. The organization is already facing the effects of a budget deficit.

The 2011-2012 annual budget has a projected $175,252 deficit that draws from the organization’s reserve fund that fell to $723,665.55 in November. Advertising revenue for TSM has declined from $2,326,411 four years ago, to $1,509,839 last year.

Texas Student Television is the only TSM entity budgeted for a profit this year.

The Daily Texan, which accounts for 89 percent of TSM advertising revenue, has seen changes in the three years since it last posted profit.

Since 2009, The Daily Texan has sold its press, outsourced printing and distribution, which resulted in staff layoffs and is making plans to reduce summer print production to once weekly. A second round of layoffs among TSM professional staff followed a reorganization in 2011.

Borders’ claim that he was dismissed because of budget-cutting proposals has led Cash to question the vice president’s role.

“The issue here is: is it right for the Office of Student Affairs to continue oversight as the president’s designee of Texas Student Media?” asked Cash.

Cash said she believes revising the Declaration of Trust to make the dean of the College of Communication the University’s designee to oversee TSM, instead of the office of student affairs, would be a better arrangement than the current one.

“In the College of Communication we have an understanding of journalism,” Cash said. “We have the right sensibility of journalism — of first amendment rights, of freedom of the press and our common disdain for prior restraint and censorship. I’m not sure the office of student affairs shares that sensibility.”

Regardless of who is the university’s designee for oversight of TSM, board president and third-year law student Lindsey Powers said the University needs to remember common courtesy when communicating with the board of trustees.

“I think a lot of people have forgotten how important it is to consult a board,” Powers said.

Kevin Hegarty, vice president and chief financial officer for the University, was recently appointed by President William Powers Jr. to investigate the circumstances of Borders’ termination.

Although Hegarty said the board should be granted the courtesy of consultation before terminating employees, he said because the University is the employer of TSM’s employees, Borders was subject to termination by the University. He said the University had more say in TSM’s operations than a yearly performance review.

“The role of the University is to counsel, to coach and to do what it can to support the board of trustees,” Hegarty said.

Hegarty said he hopes University and TSM relations improve after today’s meeting.

“The intent is to be very consultative and to come to solutions that are collaborative and cooperative,” Hegarty said. “Hopefully we can move forward.”

Former Texas Student Media director Gary Borders said Thursday that his Feb. 8 resignation came under pressure from the office of the Vice President of Student Affairs rather than because of personal reasons as had been previously announced.

After serving as TSM director for seven months, Borders announced his resignation abruptly last week. Borders spoke out Thursday saying he did not wish to resign, but chose it rather than being fired. Borders said he was not given a warning or valid reason for what he said was a forced resignation by the Student Affairs vice president Juan Gonzalez.

“I was called to meet with Mr. Gonzalez last week and he told me I had to resign or be fired,” Borders said. “It was a very brief meeting. I was stunned.”

Gonzalez, who announced in July he will be leaving the vice presidency to return to teaching, told The Daily Texan in an email that all university employment policies were followed.

“Mr. Borders decided to resign after meeting with my office about employment expectations,” Gonzalez said. “Had Mr. Borders not decided to resign, UT employment policies would have continued to have been followed in my office in consultation with the Board of Consultation Trustees.”

Members of the TSM Board of Trustees, which jointly oversees TSM with the office of student affairs, expressed frustration over not being consulted about Borders’ departure.

Student Media Board President Lindsey Powers said she was surprised by Borders’ resignation and was unaware of whether the Vice President’s office forced him to leave.

“I have not heard anything officially or legally,”

Powers said. “I would like some answers.”

Borders said Gonzalez told him he was “not collaborative” and was not doing enough to balance the budget.

As one of his primary responsibilities, Borders was expected to help TSM overcome a projected deficit of about $175,000, according to a letter from the vice president’s office. He said the office balked at some of his suggestions for doing so.

Borders said his proposal, which was never made official, suggested selling TSTV and KVRX in an attempt to gain $3 million for TSM, and this might have played a role in his forced resignation. Borders said Student Affairs assistant vice president Jennifer Hammat told him Gonzalez did not support the idea at all.

“I had talked to Mrs. Hammat about the idea before I wrote it up and she did not say she agreed with it, but she didn’t say it was completely crazy either,” Borders said. “We talked again after she showed it to Gonzalez and she said he absolutely hated it and was very upset about it.”

Borders said when he learned Gonzalez did not like the proposal he immediately began a new one suggesting different ways to make money for TSM. He said the reasons for his forced resignation are invalid because he attempted to improve the budget and collaborate with coworkers.

“I was just seeing if it was a viable option, and when I learned it wasn’t, I got to work on new ideas,” Borders said. “It wasn’t my way or the highway.”

Borders said he did not have a contract and was told he was hired “under the pleasure of the president” and could, therefore, be terminated at any time. Although Borders is upset by the forced resignation without any warning, he said there is no legal issue.

“I was never evaluated before that meeting,” Borders said. “I was never before given a warning about what I needed to change or do differently. I was never reprimanded. Nothing.”

Powers said the TSM board is planning a meeting soon to discuss an interim replacement for the position. The University originally scheduled a meeting for today but a quorum of board members was unable to attend.

Borders previously worked for newspapers throughout East Texas where he served as publisher and columnist, according to his website.

Previously publisher of Cedar Park’s Hill Country News, Borders said he hoped to hold the TSM position for as long as possible, according to a June 2011 Daily Texan article. He replaced Hammat, who served as interim director for a year and a half.

Associate director of the School of Journalism and former TSM board member Wanda Cash said although she was not on the board at the same time as Borders she has known him for a long time and believes he had good intentions for TSM.

“He understood keenly about balancing budgets and was on his way to cutting the deficit at TSM,” Cash said. “I hope his goal of debt reduction will be continued. TSM will not be able to survive on a deficit.”

Many media outlets are experiencing decreased ad revenue, including Texas Student Media, which also faces budget cuts from the state.

Jennifer Hammat, assistant vice president of student affairs and interim director for Texas Student Media, said the projected deficit for Texas Student Media in the 2010-11 fiscal year is about $120,000.

The financial situation is a combination of budget cuts and decreased ad revenues, Hammat said. She said there is a direct correlation between the success or failure of the football team and ad revenue.

“If their clients aren’t interested in going to games, they’re not interested in advertising,” Hammat said.

Texas Student Media has about $900,000 in reserves and about one-third will be used to balance the 2011-12 budget, Hammat said. $179,000 from the reserves will go toward general operations, and $60,000 from reserves is going toward equipment upgrades.

Gary Borders starts his new job as Texas Student Media director June 20. Borders steps into the position amid budget cuts and a reduction in the number of weekly print days for The Daily Texan.

Photo Credit: Trent Lesikar | Daily Texan Staff

Newly appointed Texas Student Media director Gary Borders said the future of the UT media outlets lies in increasing the use of technology and cooperation between TSM branches to maximize quality coverage.

Borders begins his job as TSM director June 20, replacing interim director Jennifer Hammat who worked in the position for a year and a half. He received his masters degree in journalism from UT and will leave his post as publisher of Cedar Park’s Hill County News.

As he steps into the position, Borders will see the impact of shrinking budgets as The Daily Texan reduces its print editions from five days a week to only publishing Mondays and Thursdays because of budget cuts, but he said he does not fear for the future of print newspapers.

“There’s no doubt that the landscape has shifted over the last few years,” Borders said. “But I think the printed product is really going to be around for a long time. It is a great vehicle for advertisers and people will always want to have something to hold in their hands when they sit down to have a cup of coffee.”

Borders, a former newspaper writer, editor and photographer said he hopes to see more synergy between The Daily Texan, KVRX and TSTV.

“At my last job in Cedar Park, I wrote the story, took pictures and used my iPhone to take video,” Borders said. “It’s what you have to do. It’s what they are doing out there.”

Borders said he hopes to hold the position for as long as possible and will wait to fully understand the operation of TSM before he makes any significant changes.

Hammat said she knows with Borders’ previous experience, she is leaving her staff in the right hands.

“The job entails having great administrative oversight but also letting competent people do their job,” Hammat said.
“I feel like we’ve done the right thing by hiring Gary.”

Hammat said budget issues and reorganization challenges filled the past 20 months when she served as interim director, but she feels sure Gary and the staff will continue strong.

Former Daily Texan editor-in-chief Lauren Winchester said the Texan is cutting its summer printing schedule because of the budget cuts TSM faces.

“We couldn’t afford to keep the paper printing five days a week this summer,” Winchester said. “We considered doing this since last summer but we were able to put it off until this one.”

Winchester said financial concerns caused the reduction, but the Texan staff hopes that by only printing two days a week they can be pushed toward the necessary online mind-set. The Texan will resume daily printing in
the fall.

Daily Texan editor-in-chief Viviana Aldous said this summer, the staff will focus on creating a more prominent and effective online presence for the Texan.

“We are trying to use our website as a breathing, living thing that responds to our readership,” Aldous said. “We are hoping to expand our coverage for more effective and productive use of the website and digital media.”

Student photographers for The Daily Texan lost their long-time adviser Friday and several other UT student media employees lost their jobs to budget cuts as student publications compensate for declining ad revenue.

The Texas Student Media Board of Operating Trustees, the body that oversees The Daily Texan, Texas Student Television and other student publications, passed recommendations at Friday’s meeting to trim personnel for a savings of $190,000 and to open a bid to outsource delivery of The Daily Texan.

The recommendations still must be approved by Juan Gonzales, the Vice President for Student Affairs, so students who disagree with the opinion of the board can potentially appeal.

Jennifer Hammat, interim director of TSM, said the organization has a $500,000 budget deficit, so in order to retain the quality of UT’s student media, jobs had to be sacrificed to offset ad revenue losses.

“We’re going to have growing pains, we’re going to learn and there will be days where we struggle,” Hammat said. “In May, we’ll know a lot more. But I think we’ll also know if we made the right reductions to offset the losses that we’re looking at.”

Three delivery truck drivers, a web master, a photo adviser and other administrative employees will lose their jobs in December.

John Foxworth, the Daily Texan photo adviser since 1994, said he thought his job reduction was a done deal before he spoke to the board.

“It was supposed to be a position argument and it turned into more of a personnel thing — even though the board said they weren’t going to go there,” Foxworth said. “When I agreed to have it in open session, the interim director proceeded to say there was a personnel issue and then declined to speak about it, which put a black mark on me right away.”

Foxworth said the photo department will have a difficult transition period after he leaves.

“I was available at all hours of the week, and they won’t have that luxury anymore,” he said.

The reductions came as a part of a restructuring of TSM that will include the creation of a new job — multimedia adviser ­­­— and the consolidation of others. The position will act as an adviser to the photo and multimedia departments as well as consult on website production.

Wanda Cash, a journalism professor and member of the TSM board, said the most appealing aspect of the restructured organization is one of the new consolidated positions, the senior program coordinator, which will advise each student publication.

“The position offers us, for the first time, coordination, cooperation and convergence between all the different elements of our media conglomerate,” Cash said.

Lindsey Powers, the only member of the TSM board who voted against the restructuring, said current students did not have enough input into the decision to cut personnel.

During the meeting, Daily Texan photo editor Lauren Gerson said although Hammat performed a job evaluation, no one in the photo department was consulted. Gerson said the department depends on the adviser for equipment checkout, photography advice and camera quality.