University of Tennessee leadership unveils plans on Title IX

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – University of Tennessee leadership talked Thursday about the university’s response to concerns over Title IX, the law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any federally funded education program or activity, including education.

UT was sued last year by several women claiming Title IX violations in how the university handled sexual assault claims involving athletes. It’s been just shy of a year since UT settled that lawsuit, which included a payout of nearly $2.5 million. UT also offered up changes coming to campus.

Previous story: Key takeaways from $2.48M University of Tennessee Title IX settlement

During Thursday’s Board of Trustees meeting, President Joe DiPietro said he felt it was important to make this report public quickly.

Dozens of interviews were done while compiling information for the report, which breaks down five things UT needs to implement:

  • Creation of a systemwide Title IX coordinating presence.
  • Enhancing campus Title IX staffing and resources.
  • Update and modify policies, grievance procedures, and student codes of conduct.
  • Enhancing case management, care, and support.
  • Enhance education, prevention, and training.

Leaders with the University of Tennessee say they’re optimistic about the report, adding it gives a great blueprint for improving and the changes mean something for all of us.

“There’s a national norm that, one, we need an investigator for every 8,000 students. So we’re looking at that right now. My goal is that we’ll hire another investigator,” said UT Knoxville Chancellor Beverly Davenport.

“I think to begin with, I would hope you would think it’s courageous to bring in four really, really talented attorneys, two have extensive Title IX experience, to say to us how good or bad are we,” added DiPietro.

There’s no timeline on when the changes will be implemented. UT’s general counsel will visit each campus, taking a look at the report and comparing it to what’s really there, along with the recommendations. They’ll then make decisions about implementing the changes.

UT hopes to have the Title IX coordinator hired by the end of the year.

Trustees on Thursday also passed the tuition proposal for next year. The 1.8 percent increase is the lowest since 1984.

“We hope to continue it in years to come. You heard me talk about how we don’t know what’s going to happen economically. The state has been helpful and helped us get there. The institutes and the campuses have been instrumental at being able to say ‘we’ll figure out how to deal with low tuition increases.’ You have to realize most dollars we get from the state in appropriations are pre-committed, we really appreciate them, but it puts a lot of stress on these campuses to figure out how to keep tuition low and I appreciate their effort.”

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