Under a new Texas law, college employees can be fired and face criminal charges for not reporting sexual misconduct.
Senate Bill 212 requires employees at private and public universities in the state to report incidents of sexual harassment, sexual assault, stalking or dating violence to the Title IX coordinator.
Tammy McDonald, Del Mar’s Title IX coordinator, said employees already participate in computer-based training on the federal law that is similar to new bill.
“Additional formal training on the law is in process and will be provided soon,” McDonald said. “Hopefully, the new law will help increase awareness of the situation and provide guidance on the need to report.”
McDonald said reports will be investigated on a case-by-case basis.
Abril Lazaro, a biology major at Del Mar, said the new bill will make her feel safer on campus.
“Sometimes you aren’t brave enough to speak up and report things yourself,” Lazaro said.
The new law does exempt student employees from reporting and employees who were victims of sexual misconduct from reporting.
Employees with designated confidentiality such as counselors and health workers are an exception to the mandatory reporting requirement.
Lazaro also added that this would not affect the way she interacts with colleges employees.
Under the new law, the college president is required to submit a report to the institution’s governing body once per semester summarizing the incidents reported. The report will also be posted on Del Mar’s website under “Student’s Right to Know.”
A failure to report results in a Class B misdemeanor, punishable by 180 days in jail and/or a $2,000 fine. If it is shown that the employee intended to conceal the incident that occurred the offense is escalated to a Class A Misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and/or a maximum fine of $4,000.
“I don’t think sexual assault is a big issue at Del Mar, but I do think it is on colleges campuses,” Lazaro said. “I feel like this bill could help with the issue.”