The Texas Higher Education Committee held a meeting on Tuesday to discuss how to prevent and eliminate sexual assault on college campuses in Texas.
Right now the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights is investigating five Texas universities for sexual assault cases under Title IX.
“It absolutely is an issue that needs to be addressed,” Dr. Noël Busch-Armendariz, Associate Dean for Research at the University of Texas at Austin’s school of Social Work said. “We know that one in five adult women and two in five adult men in Texas report a lifetime history of sexual assault. So we know it’s prevalent.”
Busch-Armendariz testified Tuesday in front of the panel of nine state lawmakers. Busch-Armendariz explained that according to her most recent research study, sexual assault on college campuses is severely under reported in Texas.
“We know it’s prevalent across campuses,” Busch-Armendariz said. “So, we don’t want institutions to be blind to it, but we also want them to be able to respond to their student body in ways that are most effective.”
Lawmakers also discussed how drug and alcohol are factors. Representative Myra Crownover said that the two go hand-in-hand with each other and the best chance to avoid sexual assault is “being sober.”
The experts that testified, however responded saying they urge campuses to look at alcohol as a factor related to increased vulnerability but not a mechanism of blame.
“Let me be clear, whether or not a sexual assault victim was intoxicated does not condone or excuse the actions of the other party,” Crownover tweeted later in the day explaining her previous comments that stirred up social media.
“I mean I knew this was an issue but the alarming rate was what really shook me up on this particular thing,” Chairman John Zerwas said. “Clearly there are some things being done, but there is obviously more that not only can we do, but we must do.”