University of California President Janet Napolitano today (June 20) announced the formation of a systemwide task force to oversee the university’s wide-ranging efforts aimed at preventing sexual violence on UC campuses.
“Sexual violence is a serious crime that we will never tolerate,” Napolitano said. “All 10 of our campuses already have comprehensive programs to respond to, and prevent, sexual violence and sexual harassment. We aim to be the national leader in combating sexual violence on campus, and the mission of this new task force is to continue to review and improve our efforts to make sure the University of California employs innovative, evidence-based and consistent practices across the system.”
The task force members include two members of the UC Board of Regents, Bonnie Reiss and Karen Leong Clancy, and representatives from campus police, victim advocacy groups, campus Title IX officers, student conduct officers, systemwide and campus administrators, and an undergraduate and graduate student. The task force will continue the work of developing best practices for all areas of sexual violence prevention, investigation, and response at UC.
Earlier this year, the university strengthened its policy against sexual and domestic violence, stalking and harassment as part of its ongoing compliance with the federal Violence Against Women Act. The development of that expanded policy coincided with an increasing focus across the UC system on the broader issues of respect and inclusion within the university community.
The policy changes included more training and education, increased reporting requirements, broader protections for victims, and specific sanctions and protective measures that the university may impose after a final disciplinary determination. Definitions, too, are explicitly spelled out. For example, the policy describes consent as “an affirmative, unambiguous and conscious decision by each participant to engage in mutually agreed-upon sexual activity.”
In response to a recent letter from Sen. Barbara Boxer asking about UC’s efforts to prevent and respond to sexual violence on campus, Napolitano also outlined specific steps that the university has taken. Napolitano provided information about:
- Campus climate surveys undertaken by the university
- Sustained and comprehensive prevention programs and strategies
- Trained confidential victims’ advocates
- Training programs for campus officials
- Assistance provided to victims, including partnerships with rape crisis and domestic violence centers
- Protocols for engaging local law enforcement
- How campuses conduct sexual assault investigations, and
- Campus adjudication processes for sexual assault under student disciplinary codes
UC’s policy on sexual violence and harassment applies to all UC students and employees, including at its five medical centers, the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the Office of the President, the Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, and all university programs and activities.