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Conference at UT looks to open a dialogue on rape, sexual consent

A conference at UT this Friday and Saturday looks to open a dialogue on rape and sexual consent (KEYE TV)

Experts, psychologists and rape survivor groups will be at UT Friday to talk about campus sexual assault.

In a sort of capstone to professor Thomas K. Hubbard's semester seminar "Mythologies of Rape" people will gather together at UT Austin Friday with a goal of opening a dialogue to the topic of sexual consent.

This interdisciplinary conference will go through Friday and Saturday and will include legal and public policy experts, a psychologist specializing in witness memory, professors, university administrators and rape survivor groups.

The conference will cover the university's role in investigating sexual assaults. One point of discussion will go through a recent report by the American Association of University Professors that found issues with certain interpretations of Title IX that says there are tensions between interpretations of Title IX and academic freedom.

Some educators have concerns that having an open discussion on controversial topics like rape may become grounds for Title IX litigations because it could create a hostile working environment.

Another topic touched on will be balancing the rights of the alleged victims as well as those accused of sexual assault. Some university administrators are concerned about recent cases involving lawsuits against universities by those accused of sexual assault. One such case went against a university for creating an interpretation of Title IX that encourages male gender bias and violation of due process.

This comes as UT System Police changed its policy back in March towards investigating sexual assault claims by students.

"It talks about the importance of us being empathetic and inclusive with victims so that they come away from the experience with a police officer feeling that they've been believed, they've been heard and we're part of the restorative process," Director of UT System Police Michael Heidingsfield said.

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