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USA Today shines spotlight on unheeded calls for Title IX reform at UNR

08 May 2024 4:54 PM | State Board (Administrator)

The Nevada Faculty Alliance is committed to working with all members of the UNR community to repair the damage to UNR's reputation from national attention and to work toward full EO/Title IX compliance and our shared emphasis on equity and inclusion. The NFA also calls for immediate action to support victims and survivors of abuse, discrimination, or power-based violence at UNR and strongly believes concrete action must be taken to protect those who are the most vulnerable.

In light of the recent USA Today article, “Exclusive Records Show Nevada Athletics Ran Afoul of Title IX: Its Leaders Shrugged,” the State Board of the Nevada Faculty Alliance reiterates its call for UNR to reform its Equal Opportunity/Title IX practices. As stated in our letters to the UNR administration in December 2022 and to NSHE leadership in October 2023, we have been gravely concerned about leadership's pattern—particularly under the guidance of Vice President of Legal Affairs and General Counsel Mary Dugan—of protecting powerful individuals accused of EO/Title IX violations while suppressing cases brought forward by whistleblowers and individuals who have faced harassment and retaliatory behavior.

Request for Accurate Historical Data

Table 1 shows data eventually released after UNR refused, in 2022, to provide sexual misconduct data to USA Today. The data illustrate how very few of those found guilty in Title IX investigations from 2018 through 2021 were disciplined when Maria Doucetperry served as the Title IX coordinator. Of 19 formal investigations and 7 findings of fault, only one student was suspended and none expelled, a number that is extremely low in comparison to other schools. Furthermore, sanctions greatly declined in comparison to when the office was run by the previous Title IX coordinator, Denise Cordova.

Table 1

Question Year
2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 Total
1. How many reports did your institution receive of a student accused of a Title IX offense? 39 62 36 85 66 25 8 5 326
2. Of the number in Question 1, how many reports were informally resolved? 30 58 26 64 60 10 4 3 255
3. Of the number in Question 1, how many formal investigations were opened? 9 4 10 8 7 11 0 1 50
4. Of the number in Question 3, how many formal investigations resulted in a finding of responsibility against one or more students for a Title IX offense? 8 3 5 5 5 1 0 1 28
5. Over the same time period, how many students found responsible in a formal investigation for a Title IX offense were expelled/dismissed/permanently separated from your institution? 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
6. Over the same time period, how many students found responsible in a formal investigation for a Title IX offense were suspended/temporarily dismissed from your institution? 2 1 2 2 0 0 0 1 8

An Opaque Process

Although the NFA and faculty senators have been requesting similar data for faculty and staff since November 2022, UNR's administration has repeatedly refused to release historical data. This is in contrast to their new era of EO/Title IX transparency and a monthly dashboard of case statistics and a fully staffed office. A consultant's long-promised report on the operation of the EO/Title IX office has not been released to the university community.

Despite public commitments to transparency, the NFA is regularly asked to assist complainants who are denied access to their investigative reports. As reported by USA Today, access to these documents is “a standard practice at other universities.” Furthermore, federal policy requires Title IX offices to “create an investigative report that fairly summarizes relevant evidence and…send to each party and the party's advisor, if any…for their review and written response.” In the meantime, we urge all members of the UNR community to please reach out to NFA leadership if you have concerns about an EO/Title IX investigation or to let us know if you have been denied access to an investigative report, so that we can provide guidance on how to obtain it.

Finally, USA Today reports that UNR paid Athletic Director Doug Knuth $308,000 to leave the university when his contract was not renewed, a payment UNR did not include in their annual NSHE buyouts report, which is submitted to the Board of Regents. Our previous statements have described and criticized the lack of transparency and completeness of the buyout reports. Without transparent and full reporting, Regents are not aware of issues so problematic that they necessitate being covered up through buyouts or settlements and therefore hold any responsible individuals accountable. Given Knuth’s reported behavior at UNR, a payout of such magnitude was fiscally and ethically irresponsible and creates mistrust in the university community. Although we applaud the administration for firing Doug Knuth for egregious Title IX violations, we again urge the administration to adhere to their new transparent processes.

Creating a Culture of Accountability

To create a culture of accountability and trust, we call on UNR’s leadership to do the following:

  • Follow federal law by creating and releasing investigative reports.
  • Release historical case data for faculty and staff so the UNR community can assess the administration’s progress and trust the process.
  • Establish public policies in line with federal guidance clearly showing the roles played by institutional administrators, general counsels, and HR managers in Title IX hearings and EO/Title IX office
  • Hold institutional administrators and other employees accountable for violating prohibitions when intervening in Title IX and other proceedings.

We further call on the NSHE Board of Regents to require complete and transparent annual reporting from each NSHE institution. These reports should, at a minimum, include statistical data on student, faculty, and staffEO/Title IX investigations and outcomes as well as buyouts and settlements with employees or former employees and the amount of each.

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