The two finalists in consideration to become UT’s new Title IX Coordinator met with students and faculty Monday and Tuesday to discuss the future of the Office of Compliance.
During the two meetings held at the Avaya Auditorium, about a dozen people heard candidates Donna Reddix and Adriana Alicea-Rodriguez each answer questions from the audience and present their plans for the Title IX Office, which oversees the University’s investigations and responses to reports of sex discrimination and sexual harrassment.
Reddix is the associate director of the Office for Inclusion and Equity at UT and spoke on Monday. She said her plans for the Title IX Office include improving communication, Title IX training and education on campus, as well as gathering data on the history of the office.
Alicea-Rodriguez is the director of Title IX training and investigations at the Office of the Dean of Students at UT and spoke on Tuesday. She said she would base changes around student and staff feedback, and views Title IX as a “living” program that will continue to change and grow.
The main issue discussed at both meetings, which were livestreamed and are available for viewing until next Tuesday, was the student body’s lack of trust in the office. To address this problem, Reddix said she would work to “rebrand” the office and try to meet with students one-on-one and in large forums.
“It’s about telling people over and over again, ‘We’re here for you and this is why we’re here for you,’ and being visible,” Reddix said.
Alicea-Rodriguez also said she would meet with students and suggested creating a student task force to review the office’s performance.
“The program is only going to be successful if we have an accurate understanding of the experiences of the students who go through it,” Alicea-Rodriguez said. “That’s the only way that we can grow.”
During both meetings, students asked if the candidates would expand no contact directives, which prevent both parties involved in a Title IX case from contacting each other, to include classrooms.
Reddix said she would support using alternatives, such as allowing the student to complete the class online. Alicea-Rodriguez also supported expanding the directive to classes, referencing House Bill 1735, which becomes law Sept. 1 and allows either party to drop a class without penalty.
Sara Ross, UT Student Government Interpersonal Violence Prevention policy co-director, came to the event to advocate for survivors and said faculty don’t understand the inefficiency of the current Title IX Office.
As The Daily Texan previously reported, Ross said she had to see the person who sexually assaulted her every week because they shared a class, despite having a no contact directive. She eventually switched out of the class.
"It's been really frustrating because it just genuinely feels like no one in the office really understands how bad (the Title IX Office) is,” said Ross, a social work and Plan II junior.
Leo Barnes, the University’s chief compliance officer, said he does not know when the final decision would be made.