UT SHARPENS ITS POL­ICY AGAINST ACTS OF HATE AND BIAS

New pol­icy comes af­ter crit­i­cism at town hall meet­ing.

Austin American-Statesman - - METRO & STATE - By Ralph K.M. Hau­r­witz rhau­r­witz@states­man.com

The Univer­sity of Texas adopted a new pol­icy Wed­nes­day that more clearly and force­fully de­clares its con­dem­na­tion and pro­hi­bi­tion of cer­tain acts of in­tol­er­ance, hate and bias.

“The Hate and Bias In­ci­dent Pol­icy es­tab­lishes that ac­tions con­ducted with dis­crim­i­na­tory and hate­ful in­tent on our cam­pus will be pun­ished rapidly and with greater con­se­quences than in the past,” UT Pres­i­dent Gregory L. Fenves said in a mes­sage emailed to the univer­sity com­mu­nity. “It clearly de­fines the three pri­mary ac­tions that can re­sult in a hate or bias in­ci­dent charge — threat­ened or ac­tual vi­o­lent con­duct, ha­rass­ment, and in­cite­ment to im­mi­nent vi­o­la­tions of the law. We will not tol­er­ate threat­en­ing acts at UT.”

The pol­icy, ef­fec­tive im­me­di­ately, comes two weeks af­ter stu­dents at a town hall-style gath­er­ing hosted by Fenves crit­i­cized univer­sity of­fi­cials for a some­times-tepid re­sponse to in­ci­dents of dis­crim­i­na­tion and hate. Fenves con­ceded dur­ing the town hall that the univer­sity has fallen short of a full-throated con­dem­na­tion of such in­ci­dents at times, in­clud­ing the pre­vi­ous week when posters im­plor­ing peo­ple to “imag­ine a Mus­lim-free Amer­ica” were placed on three build­ings and a util­ity pole on cam­pus.

The new pol­icy had been un­der de­vel­op­ment be­fore the town hall, said Son­cia Rea­gins-Lilly, UT’s vice pres­i­dent for stu­dent af­fairs and dean of stu­dents. It calls for a faster re­view of com­plaints and po­ten­tially greater sanc­tions for vi­o­la­tions, up to dis­missal of a stu­dent found in vi­o­la­tion and ter­mi­na­tion of a fac­ulty or staff mem­ber.

The pol­icy states that, in ac­cor­dance with fed­eral and state laws, UT “pro­hibits un­law­ful ha­rass­ment on the ba­sis of race, color, re­li­gion, na­tional ori­gin, gen­der, gen­der iden­tity or gen­der ex­pres­sion, age, dis­abil­ity, cit­i­zen­ship, vet­eran sta­tus, sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion, ide­ol­ogy, po­lit­i­cal views, or po­lit­i­cal af­fil­i­a­tion.”

Rea­gins-Lilly noted that some in­ci­dents of hate cited at the town hall, such as death threats shouted at a stu­dent wear­ing a head scarf by an un­known per­son, are vir­tu­ally im­pos­si­ble to in­ves­ti­gate. In such cases, she said, a stu­dent can be put in touch with a di­ver­sity co­or­di­na­tor who can help the stu­dent talk through the ex­pe­ri­ence.

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