Title IX at University of St. Thomas

500X330_TitleIX_IntroUniversity of St. Thomas (“UST” or “the University”) is committed to the religious, ethical and intellectual traditions of Catholic higher education, which includes cultivating a diverse and inclusive community that recognizes the value of each individual and allows persons to learn and work in an environment free from harassment and discrimination. As part of this effort, UST will respond to sex-based harassment and discrimination and through clear policies and grievance procedures, educational programming, and employee training, and commits itself to maintaining a safe and healthy educational and employment environment.

The University believes that no person should bear the effects of sexual misconduct, sexual assault, or related violence alone. When sexual misconduct, sexual assault or some form of related violence occurs, the University’s paramount concern is for the safety, health and well-being of those impacted.

The Title IX Office works the UST community in implementing and upholding policies and practices that are consistent with federal and state mandates in as well as existing University policies which prohibit discrimination based on race, color, national origin, age, sex, sexual orientation, religion, disability, and veteran status.

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Procedural Flowcharts

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Sexual Misconduct Policy Governing Students and Employees

The Sexual Misconduct Policy Governing Students and Employees prohibits sexual harassment including sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, and sexual exploitation. It applies to conduct that occurs on University property or at University-sponsored activities. The University may also address "Non-Title IX" complaints that occur off-campus, at study abroad programs, and/or online when the conduct affects a substantial University interest

What is Title IX

Title IX is a federal civil rights law passed as part of the Education Amendments of 1972. This law protects people from discrimination based on sex in education programs or activities that receive Federal financial assistance. Title IX states that:

Senate Bill 212

During the 2019 legislative session, Senate Bill (SB 212) was passed. This is a Texas State Law that requires all non-confidential employees (both faculty and staff) at institutions of higher education to promptly report any knowledge of any incidents of sexual assault, sexual harassment, dating violence, or stalking “committed by or against a student enrolled at or an employee of the institution at the time of an incident.”

Any member of the UST community who believes that they have experienced sexual harassment, including sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, or sexual exploitation in violation of this Policy is encouraged to report the incident(s) as soon as possible. While reporting is encouraged, Complainant’s have the right to report or not report the incident to the University and/or to law enforcement.

The University has procedures in place that serve to be sensitive to those who make an institutional report of sexual misconduct.  Procedures include informing individuals about their right to file criminal charges as well as the availability of counseling, mental health, spiritual health and other services on and/or off campus, as well as additional remedies to prevent contact between a complainant and a respondent, such as housing and academic accommodations, if the complainant requests them and if they are reasonably available.

As you consider these reporting options, please keep this important information in mind:

  • Filing a report or disclosing a concern is NOT the same as filing a formal complaint with the Title IX Coordinator
  • Supportive measures are available to you regardless of filing a formal complaint. If a formal complaint is filed, supportive measures are available throughout the resolution process.

Reporting to Law Enforcement:

  • University of St. Thomas Police (available 24/7/365)
    • (713)525-3888
    • Moran Parking Center, 1st Floor Southwest Entrance
      3807 Graustark Street, Houston, TX 77006
    • Police@stthom.edu
  • Houston Police Department
    • 911 or 713-884-3131

Reporting to the University:

Online Reporting Options

Mandatory Reporters

All faculty and staff members who are not Confidential Resources are “Mandatory Reporters.” A Mandatory Reporter who witnesses or receives information regarding the occurrence of an incident that the employee believes could constitute an offense as defined in this policy shall promptly report such information to the institution’s Title IX Coordinator(s) in person or via email. A report to a faculty or staff member does not result in a Complaint for purpose of triggering an investigation or Informal or Formal Resolution Processes; however, Texas law requires the reporting of that information by the Mandatory Reporter to the institution’s Title IX Coordinator(s)

Confidential Options

Several campus professionals are designated Confidential Resources. An individual who is not prepared to make a report, or who may be unsure how to label what happened, but still seeks information and support, is strongly encouraged to contact a Confidential Resource.

Upon receipt of a report from a Complainant, a campus Confidential Resource will provide information on the following:

  1. Possible next steps regarding the Complainant’s reporting options and possible outcomes, including without limitation reporting pursuant to the University resolution processes and local law enforcement
  2. Student services available on campus and through community-based resources, including
    without limitation sexual assault crisis centers, medical treatment facilities, counseling services, legal resources, medical forensic services, and mental health services
  3. The University’s responsibilities regarding orders of protection, no contact orders, or similar lawful orders issued by the higher education institution or a criminal or civil court
  4. Liaise as requested and appropriate with campus officials, law enforcement and community-based resources including assisting with supportive measures

Counseling Services

Any student in need of immediate emotional support should contact Counseling and Wellness Services and request to speak with a confidential counselor (after hours, contact the police department or your housing staff to access the counselor on call). You may also access the Counseling and Wellness Services website. Survivors (employees or students) may also contact AVDA (sexual and domestic violence resource center off campus) to speak with a confidential advocate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by calling (713) 224-9911. Access AVDA website at www.avda-tx.org.

Victim advocates and counselors are available for both the survivor and any UST students helping the survivor of sexual assault. As licensed mental health professionals, all information shared with those in Counseling and Wellness Services is kept confidential, except in certain circumstances excluded by law.

Upon receiving a report or a Formal Complaint, the Title IX Coordinator will promptly offer Supportive Measures to the parties designed to restore or preserve access to the University’s education program, activity, or work environment. Supportive Measures are non-disciplinary, non-punitive individualized services offered as appropriate, as reasonably available, and without fee or charge and can include actions deemed necessary to protect the well-being of the individuals involved in cases of sexual harassment, as well as the educational environment of the University community.

These Supportive Measures may include but are not limited to:

  • counseling,
  • mutual no contact orders,
  • relocating residence hall assignments,
  • restricting access to certain campus buildings,
  • changes to class schedules, assistance with rescheduling an academic assignment (paper, exam, etc.),
  • tutoring support, changes to work schedules/situations,
  • changes to work locations,
  • leaves of absences,
  • transportation assistance and escorts to and from campus locations,
  • increased security and monitoring of certain areas,
  • and other measures for safety as necessary.

Resources

Medical Assistance

Complainants are encouraged to seek medical assistance in any instance of sexual harassment where physical or sexual assault is being alleged.

Medical attention at the local hospital may be needed in order to preserve valuable evidence should you decide to seek prosecution through the criminal justice system; however, it should be noted that you can receive a medical forensic exam without having to file a criminal complaint. If you suspect that you were given a predatory drug, let the hospital staff know.  A urine sample can be collected within 72 hours of a sexual assault for predatory drug testing.

Hospitals in and around the Houston area include:

  • Memorial Hermann Hospital 6411 Fannin Street Houston, Texas 77030 713-704-1261
    (Forensic Nurse Response Team available at any Memorial Hermann Hospital in the greater
    Houston area)
  • Ben Taub Hospital 1504 Ben Taub Loop Houston, Texas 77030 713-873-2000 (Forensic Kits available)

Resources Specific for UST Students

On-Campus

Campus Ministry – confidential (713-525-3589)
Priests, deacons, and religious sisters and brothers are able to provide pastoral counseling support. These individuals will honor an employee’s or student’s request for confidentiality unless there is an imminent danger to the employee, student or to others. However, an employee’s or student’s disclosure during the sacrament of confession will not be revealed by the priest for any reason, which is a sacred obligation protected by law.

Counseling and Wellness Services – confidential (713-525-2169)
Offers free, confidential counseling. Current students may seek counseling and/or information and referral to off-campus resources; current employees may seek a counseling consultation and/or information and referral to off-campus resources.

Victim advocates and counselors are available for both the survivor and any UST students helping the survivor of sexual assault. As licensed mental health professionals, all information shared with those in Counseling and Wellness Services is kept confidential, except in certain circumstances excluded by law.

In a crisis situation, Counseling and Wellness Services’ professional mental health counselors can be reached after hours by contacting the University Police Department at (713) 525-3888 to request that a counselor contact him or her directly. The University is staffed by trained professionals who can provide specialized support and assistance to employees and students who have been assaulted. These services are available at any time, whether it is days, months, or years after the incident.

Office of Student Affairs – not confidential (713-525-3570)
May be able to assist with changes in the survivor’s academic schedule, if reasonable adjustments are deemed appropriate.

UST Police – not confidential (713-525-3888)
The UST Police Department can assist with the following:

  • Filing a criminal report
  • Obtaining a Protective Order
  • Safety planning

Title IX Coordinator – not confidential (713-942-3458)
The University's Title IX Coordinator is the designated agent of the University with primary oversight for coordinating the University's Title IX compliance responsibilities.  The Title IX Coordinator's responsibilities are important to the overall development, implementation, and monitoring of the University's efforts to comply with Title IX legislation and regulations.  The Title IX Coordinator works to ensure a fair and neutral process for all parties.  Students and employees are encouraged to contact the Title IX Coordinator with questions or to discuss Title IX related matters.

Off-Campus – these are all confidential options

Community resources:

National resources:

Texas Resources: 

Resources Specific for Faculty and Staff
Employee Assistance Program through MHN
UST company ID: stthom (800) 227-1060

Human Resources Human Resources Office
3818 Graustark St.
(713) 525-3142

The University of St. Thomas is committed to creating an inclusive community for pregnant and parenting students.

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 prohibits discrimination based on sex in education programs or activities including academic, educational, extracurricular, athletic, and other programs or activities of schools. This prohibition includes discrimination against pregnant and parenting students.

Accommodation Requests:

Students may request reasonable accommodations as the result of pregnancy, childbirth, and other related medical conditions. Such accommodations may include:

  • a larger desk
  • breaks during class, as needed
  • permitting temporary access to elevators
  • rescheduling tests or exams
  • excusing absences due to pregnancy or related conditions
  • submitting work after a deadline missed due to pregnancy or childbirth
  • providing alternatives to make up missed work
  • allowing excused absences for parenting students (both male and female) who need to take their children to medical appointments or to take care of their sick children
  • allowing a parenting student reasonable time for nursing and access to lactation rooms

A pregnant student will be allowed to make up any work missed due to medically necessary absences for pregnancy. A student will be offered acceptable alternative arrangements to make up missed work. The student will not be required to complete make up work until the student's medically necessary absences for pregnancy are completed.

Accommodation requests should be directed to the Title IX Office. The Title IX Coordinator will discuss the pregnant or parenting individual's needs and may ask for documentation that supports the requested accommodations. 

For students who have a chronic medical condition as a result of a pregnancy, The Title IX Coordinator will work with Access and Disability Services.

To request an accommodation, please complete this form.

Faculty Information:

Faculty members, if a student informs you that they are pregnant, please refer them to the Title IX Office. You cannot ask them for a doctor’s note regarding their medical condition. Additionally, you must excuse all medically necessary absences as the result of pregnancy, childbirth, and other related medical conditions. When the student returns to college, they must be reinstated to the status they held when the leave began, which should include giving them the opportunity to make up any work missed. A college may offer the student alternatives to making up missed work, such as a retaking a semester, taking part in an online course, or allowing additional time in a program to continue at the same pace and finish at a later date, especially after longer periods of leave. 

Resources and Additional Information:

Informal Resolution

Some incidents of sexual harassment may be resolved through informal resolution.

The informal resolution process does not include a formal investigation or a determination that a policy was violated. With the voluntary consent of the parties, informal resolution may be used to agree upon disciplinary sanctions.

Informal Resolutions may include, but are not limited to:

  • Placing a Respondent on notice that, if such behavior has occurred or is occurring, such conduct should cease immediately;
  • A written warning;
  • Education and/or training for a Respondent and/or department;
  • Permanent Supportive Measures for Complainant;
  • Mediation or other informal communication between the Complainant and Respondent;
  • Messaging to the campus community;
  • Events and/or trainings offered to the campus community or particular departments;
  • Referral and/or collaboration with another District department in order to address the allegations and eliminate any potential sexual misconduct; and/or other forms of resolution that can be tailored to the needs of the parties

Formal Resolution

Assessment:

Once a Formal Complaint is signed, the Title IX Coordinator will initiate a prompt review of the Formal Complaint to determine the next steps in the grievance process, including referring the matter to an investigation or referral to the appropriate office.

Investigation:

If the formal complaint falls under the jurisdiction of the Sexual Misconduct Policy Governing Students and Employees, the Title IX Coordinator will refer the matter for investigation.

The investigation includes interviews with the parties, witnesses, and the collection of other evidence.

The parties will be given an opportunity to respond to the evidence that is collected during the course of the investigation. The investigator(s) will prepare a final investigation report and the parties will have an opportunity to issue a written response to the report.

Hearing:

All hearings will be conducted in a live hearing format which means all parties and the decision-maker may be physically present in the same geographic location, or at the request of either party or the University, the parties may be located in separate rooms with technology enabling the decision-maker and parties to simultaneously see and hear the party or the witness answering questions.

For incidents which have reached the definitional and jurisdictional thresholds of sexual harassment as prescribed by Title IX, the parties will be provided with an equal opportunity for their advisors to conduct cross-examination of the other party and of relevant witnesses. A typical hearing may include: brief opening remarks by the decision-maker; questions posed by the decision- maker to one or both of the parties; cross-examination by either party’s advisor of the other party and relevant witnesses; and questions posed by the decision-maker to any relevant witnesses.

For non-Title IX adjudication proceedings for students, questioning is done by the decision-maker and not the party’s advisor.

Non-Title IX adjudication proceedings for employees will be adjudicated in accordance with the policies and procedures outlined in the Policy 5.4.1 Non-Title IX Grievance Procedures – Students and 5.4.2 Non-Title IX Grievance Procedures – Employees 

Appeal:

Appeals are available after a complaint dismissal or after a final determination is made. Appeals can be made based on the following:

Procedural irregularities in the investigation affecting the outcome;

New evidence that could affect the outcome but was not reasonably available at the time the determination or dismissal was made; or

The Title IX Coordinator, investigator, or decision-maker had a bias or a conflict of interest that affected the outcome.

Rights of the Parties:

In the event that a Complaint is filed, the Complainant and the Respondent will receive a written notification of rights and options regarding the adjudication process, to include the following:

  • The right for Complainants and Respondents to be treated equitably by the University which includes providing remedies to a Complainant where a determination of responsibility for sexual harassment has been made against the Respondent, and by following a grievance process that complies with this policy;
  • The right to a fair, impartial, proceeding that begins promptly and is completed within
    reasonably prompt timeframes;
  • The right to a resolution process that is consistent with the University’s policies, transparent to the Complainant and Respondent, and in which the burden of proof and of gathering evidence rests with the University and not the Parties;
  • The right to a Support Person of the Party’s choosing during the grievance process and to an Advisor of the Party’s choosing for any hearing under the Title IX Grievance process. If a Party does not have an Advisor present at the hearing, the University will provide without fee or charge, an advisor of the University’s choice for purposes of conducting cross examination;
  • The right to reasonable accommodations during any hearing, such as not being in the same room as the other Party;
  • The right to an objective evaluation of all relevant evidence—including both inculpatory and exculpatory evidence—and provide that credibility determinations will not be based on a person’s status as a Complainant, Respondent, or witness;
  • The right to a determination regarding responsibility made at the conclusion of the resolution process and that the University makes no prior presumption of responsibility; and The right not to be retaliated against for filing a Complaint and/or for participating in an Informal or Formal Resolution Process

Procedural Flowcharts

What is Title IX, or TIX?
Title IX is a federal law that protects individuals from sex discrimination in any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.

Isn’t Title IX just about athletics?
No, not entirely. Title IX addresses discrimination based on sex/gender. Title IX considers sexual harassment and sexual violence as forms of sex/gender discrimination and it requires that all incidents of sexual harassment and sexual violence be viewed as discrimination and be investigated.

Does Title IX protect all students from sexual violence?
Yes. Title IX protects all students from sex discrimination, including sexual violence. Any student can experience sexual violence: from elementary to professional school students; male and female students; straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students; part-time and full-time students; students with and without disabilities; and students of different races and national origins.

As a student at St. Thomas, am I protected from sex discrimination?
Yes, it is unlawful to discriminate against St. Thomas students because of their sex.

Is it possible to be sexually harassed/assaulted by someone of the same gender?
Is it possible to be sexually harassed/assaulted by someone of the same gender? Yes. If you have been subjected to unwanted sexual contact or sexual harassment, your gender and the gender of the alleged perpetrator are irrelevant. Such conduct is prohibited by Title IX.

Why does UST require every student to complete SafeColleges training?

  • We are required by the Federal government to annually train our entire campus community on Title IX, bystander intervention, and many other important topics. We believe that by training our University annually, we can reduce sexual violence occurrences and help remind our campus of the dignity of each person.
  • Regardless of your age, status, sexual orientation, ethnicity, or sex, it is possible you could be discriminated against. We won’t stand for that and we want you to be prepared to report that behavior to us so we can resolve the behavior quickly and equitably.

What are some examples of sex discrimination, sexual harassment, and sexual assault?

Depending on the particular circumstances, sex discrimination, sexual harassment or sexual assault may include, but is not limited to, the following:

  1. Physical assaults of a sexual nature, such as rape, sexual battery, molestation, or attempts to commit these assaults; and intentional physical conduct that is sexual in nature such as touching, pinching, patting, grabbing, poking, or brushing against another individual's body.     
  2. Offering or implying an employment-related reward (such as a promotion, raise, or different work assignment) or an education-related reward (such as a better grade, a letter of recommendation, favorable treatment in the classroom, assistance in obtaining employment, grants or fellowships, or admission to any educational program or activity) in exchange for sexual favors or submission to sexual conduct.
  3. Threatening or taking a negative employment action (such as termination, demotion, denial of an employee benefit or privilege, or change in working conditions) or negative educational action (such as giving an unfair grade, withholding a letter of recommendation, or withholding assistance with any educational activity) or intentionally making the individual's job or academic work more difficult because sexual conduct is rejected.
  4. The use or display in the classroom or workplace, including electronic, pornographic or sexually harassing materials such as posters, photos, cartoons or graffiti without pedagogical justification.
  5. Unwelcome sexual advances, repeated propositions or requests for a sexual relationship to an individual who has previously indicated that such conduct is unwelcome, or sexual gestures, noises, remarks, jokes, questions, or comments about a person's sexuality or sexual experience. Such conduct between peers must be sufficiently severe, persistent, or pervasive that it creates an educational or working environment that is hostile or abusive. A single incident involving severe misconduct may rise to the level of harassment.

What issues does the Title IX Office handle?

The Title IX Office is responsible for responding to all reports relating to sexual harassment, including quid pro quo sexual harassment, hostile environment harassment, sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, stalking, and sexual exploitation.

What happens if I was assaulted off-campus?

The Sexual Harassment Policy applies to conduct that occurs on University property or at University-sponsored activities. The University may also address “Non-Title IX” complaints that occur off-campus, at study abroad programs, and/or online when the conduct affects a substantial University interest.

Does the Policy apply to on-line behavior too?

Yes, all actions by a member of the University community that involve the use of the University’s computing and network resources from a remote location, including but not limited to accessing email accounts, digital platforms, and computer hardware or software owned or operated by UST will be deemed to have occurred on campus. Additionally, on-line and/or social media conduct may violate this Policy if it meets the definition of Prohibited Conduct.

What is consent?

Consent is defined as an affirmative indication by words and/or actions of a voluntary agreement to engage in the particular sexual act or conduct in question. Consent for one sexual act or conduct does not constitute consent to all sexual acts or conduct. Consent can be withdrawn at any time, and once withdrawal of consent has been expressed, sexual activity must cease. Consent cannot be obtained through the use of force, threat, intimidation, or coercion. Silence or absence of resistance on the part of an individual does not constitute their consent. Consent cannot be given by someone who is incapacitated due to consuming drugs or alcohol or for any other reason (including but not limited to being unconscious, asleep, or otherwise unaware that sexual activity is occurring).

How do I know if someone is incapacitated?

Incapacitation is a state where someone cannot make rational, reasonable decisions because they lack the capacity to give knowing consent (e.g., to understand the “who, what, when, where, why, or how” of their sexual interaction). While incapacitation may result from the use of alcohol and/or drugs, incapacitation is a state beyond drunkenness or intoxication. Incapacitation may also exist because of a physical, mental, or developmental disability. The question of incapacitation will be examined objectively from the perspective of the Respondent i.e. whether a reasonable, sober person in place of the Respondent should have known the condition of the Complainant based on the apparent indications of incapacitation, which may include, but are not limited to, acting confused or incoherent, difficulty walking or speaking, and/or vomiting.

What if I am underage, am I going to get charged for underaged drinking if I report an assault?

To encourage reporting under these circumstances, the University will not take disciplinary action against a student reporter, student witness, student Complainant, or student Respondent for their personal use of alcohol or drugs or for other prohibited conduct at or near the time of the incident reported if such violations do not or did not subject other people to harm.

What happens if I report something to a staff member or a professor?

All faculty and staff members who are not Confidential Resources are “Mandatory Reporters.” A Mandatory Reporter who witnesses or receives information regarding the occurrence of an incident that the employee believes could constitute an offense as defined in this policy shall promptly report such information to the institution’s Title IX Coordinator(s) in person or via email. A report to a faculty or staff member does not result in a Complaint for purpose of triggering an investigation or Informal or Formal Resolution Processes; however, Texas law requires the reporting of that information by the Mandatory Reporter to the institution’s Title IX Coordinator(s)

What if I want to remain anonymous?

The University understands that some Complainants may seek confidentiality with respect to a report of sexual harassment, including requesting that they not be identified to the Respondent. Due to the usually private nature of these actions and the need to ensure a fair process for all involved, the University may not be able to pursue charges of sexual harassment unless the Complainant is willing to be identified.

My friend told me that they were assaulted. What can I do to help?

Make sure they are safe. If not, get them to a safe place.

Listen, believe, and do not judge them.

Reinforce that they are not to blame.

Help them organize their thoughts, but let them make decisions about how to proceed.

Provide options if your friend wants to report the assault. Reporting can be done on campus by contacting Public Safety. Reporting may be done anonymously, and does not require them to file charges. To report off campus, call 911.

Contact a trained counselor who will be able to help you in understanding what steps to take to help your friend.

Explain that seeking medical attention is very important if the assault was recent. There may be injuries that they are unaware of.

Encourage them not to disturb potential evidence. Even if they do not plan to press charges or contact university officials, they should not change clothes, shower, or wash their hands after the assault, which can disturb DNA evidence. Get medical attention first. Similarly, save all electronic evidence too (text, social media posts, DMs, etc.)

Be accessible. Your friend may need to talk at odd hours or for long periods of time.

Deal with your feelings. Sexual assault impacts loved ones, and you need to heal as well.

Understand that every victim is different. Your friend may exhibit shock, denial, rationalization, depression, guilt, fear, anxiety, and anger. All are normal emotions.

Do not engage with the alleged perpetrator. Contacting him/her may be viewed as threatening behavior.

Encourage your friend to get mental health care. On campus, you can contact the Counseling and Wellness Service, and there are also off-campus resources available.

What can I do here at UST?

Educate yourself. Attend a prevention program or event on campus or in the community. (this will eventually have links)

Confront language, jokes, or comments about victim blaming, sexism, racism, or homophobia.

Pledge to be an active bystander if you notice red flags of sexual assault. If you see something concerning – say something!

Know campus resources for reporting and your responsibility to report.

Support and believe survivors of sexual assault

Together we can create a culture where everyone feels safe and respected.

Title IX Coordinator

Beth Devonshire, Interim Title IX CoordinatorThe University’s Title IX Coordinator is the designated agent of the University with primary responsibility for coordinating the University’s Title IX compliance efforts. The Title IX Coordinator’s responsibilities are important to the overall development, implementation, and monitoring of the University’s efforts to comply with Title IX legislation and regulations. 

The Title IX Coordinator works to ensure a fair and neutral process for all parties. Students and employees are encouraged to contact the Title IX Coordinator with questions or to discuss Title IX related matters.

Beth Devonshire, Interim Title IX Coordinator
Human Resources Office
3818 Graustark Street
Houston, TX
713-942-3458
Beth.Devonshire@Stthom.edu