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Education

Federal Audit Reveals UTSA Failed To Publish 55 Reported Crimes, Including Sexual Assault, Misconduct

The downtown campus of UTSA on January 5, 2018.
Camille Phillips
/
Texas Public Radio

The University of Texas at San Antonio failed to include 55 crimes reported between January 2015 and December 2017 in the annual crime statistics it is required to publish under the Clery Act.

That’s according to a final audit from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of the Inspector General.

Most of the crimes missing from the three annual reports under scrutiny during the audit were sexual assaults or misconduct, including two rape cases, 12 reports of dating violence and 25 reports of stalking. Auditors said the total number of crimes may be higher, but could not be verified due to limits of existing reporting.

“Due to weaknesses in San Antonio’s internal controls and recordkeeping, we could not identify the total number of Clery Act crimes that San Antonio should have reported during the audit period and concluded that the actual reportable number of crimes could be higher than the number we identified,” the audit said.

UTSA Clery Act Audit Table of Missing Crimes.JPG
Camille
UTSA Clery Act Audit Table

Auditors identified two primary weaknesses in UTSA’s reporting process: a failure to collect information from some law enforcement agencies, and a failure to sufficiently inform employees of their responsibilities to collect and share information.

In a letter posted to the university website the day after the audit was released, UTSA President Taylor Eighmy said the university was “taking this report very seriously.”

“We always want you to be safe and feel safe at UTSA — whether you are in class, in your residence hall, at work, or participating in one of the many campus activities that makes our university the transformative place it should be for all of us,” Eighmy said.

“Soon after I arrived at UTSA (in 2017), I became aware of the significant gaps in our processes based on information identified during an internal assessment conducted in 2016. I immediately initiated efforts to overhaul and improve our Clery Act procedures and am glad to report that our current practices no longer reflect those described in the OIG report,” he added.

According to the audit, UTSA officials told auditors the university made changes to address the weaknesses identified.

Between 2018 and 2019, a group of student activists at UTSA called Change Rape Culture organized a series of activities calling on the university to take a more active role in holding perpetrators of sexual violence accountable.

Co-founder Kimiya Factory said the audit’s findings support the experiences of students and alumni.

“I knew that these numbers were messed up when I was investigating and organizing on campus, because I had over 100 women come to me and say, ‘I've reported this and I have not been followed up with,’” Factory said.

Factory’s first two years at UTSA overlapped with the last two years of the audit.

“Now that the numbers are here, even if it's 55, and I know that there are more, I'm hoping that they can take this a bit more seriously and understand that an initiative is not enough,” Factory said. “It will never be enough. (The university needs to) genuinely (take) the concerns of survivors.”

Some of the initiatives Eighmy outlined in his letter about the audit were implemented after Change Rape Culture began organizing in 2018, including a zero tolerance policy for student athletes adopted in 2019.

“Change Rape Culture was literally the catalyst for the initiatives that he listed in the statement, and he's still falling short to accurately represent survivors on campus,” Factory said.

It’s unclear why UTSA was selected by the Office of the Inspector General for the audit, but it’s possible the selection was random. A spokesperson for the OIG told TPR that the OIG does not discuss why it selects universities for audits because “many factors go into those decisions,” and that the office is conducting a series of audits on Clery Act crime statistics.

Colleges like UTSA that receive federal financial aid are required by the Clery Act to publish the number of crimes reported on or near campus each year. The Clery Act is named after Jeanne Clery, a student at LeHigh University who was raped and murdered in her dorm room in 1986. The published crime statistics are intended to help current and prospective students make informed decisions about their safety.

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