A graduate student accused of sexual assault, found responsible, and suspended by the institution has objected to what he sees as a “flawed” system. The university has said that his suspension was “based on careful consideration of the testimony of the parties and relevant witnesses and a review of written evidence.”
The Office for Civil Rights began investigating Texas A&M;'s handling of that case, involving a sexual encounter between a male and female graduate student in 2014, then widened its inquiry to examine “how sexual harassment/violence complaints are handled” at the university more generally, according to documents obtained by The Texas Tribune under the state’s open-records law.
A former student accused of sexual assault by several female classmates was convicted in 2006 and sentenced to 18 years in prison.
The institution has affirmed its commitment to victims of sexual assault, collected resources online, and started a bystander-intervention campaign called Step In, Stand Up.
About 15 percent of female undergraduates said they had experienced nonconsensual penetration or sexual touching due to physical force or incapacitation since arriving on the campus, according to a climate survey by the Association of American Universities. About 64 percent of all students believed it was very or extremely likely that Texas A&M; would conduct a fair investigation.
While the data show an upward trend of reporting, victim advocates on campus say there is still a significant difference in the number of sexual assaults and those that are reported, a disparity fueled by social stigmas.