The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Sexual assault bill to enforce more policies

By Jamil Oakford/editor-in-chief

The Texas Legislature is currently debating a bill that would require higher education institutions to create and enforce a sexual assault policy, which TCC officials say the college already has.

State Rep. Poncho Neváres (D-Eagle Pass) presented House Bill 699 to the higher education committee March 11.
“The big, main campuses do a good job laying [the policy] out,” Neváres said at the committee hearing.

He explained this bill would affect more regular state universities and other higher education systems that don’t have a clear policy or any policy at all.

This bill would require these institutions not only to have a policy but also to educate students and provide and maintain a Web page on available resources on the school’s main website.

TCC already has a sexual harassment policy in place under the Freedom from Discrimination section of its Policies and Procedure Manual, known as FFD (LOCAL), the student welfare section.

“It falls under Title IX,” director of employee relations Nancy Ball said.

Title IX, a federal law passed in 1972, requires equality among genders for programs receiving funding from the federal government.

From this policy, TCC defines sexual harassment and lists procedural steps taken once a complaint is filed.

“We have coordinators on each campus to help students,” Ball said. “The first step in reporting would be getting a report from the police.”

While the harassment policy is clearly outlined in the student handbook, which is online, the FFD (LOCAL) policy isn’t as easily accessible or known to students.

“I haven’t heard about it,” NE student Sally Kiloough said. “They haven’t made it very public.”

While the student handbook can be found on the main page, the FFD (LOCAL) sexual assault policy resides on a separate site. To find it, students, employees or parents must go to the  bottom of the TCC home page, click on Human Resource and then a series of links.

Even then, people would have to know what they were searching for to access the policy. If the bill passes, the school would have to arrange to have a link put on the main page that everyone could access directly to the policy and resources.

Neváres understands that for many this kind of bill is common sense, but he mentioned in the hearing that some people need the reminder.

“I think some of us need to be told on a regular basis, ‘Don’t do this,’” he said.

While the bill is still working its way through committee in the House, there’s a possibility this could make it to the floor as another House committee looks into it.

If this passes into law, colleges and universities would have to make changes by Sept. 1.

“It’s a good thing to make people aware of it,” Kiloough said. “People could be doing something wrong and not even know it.”

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