UC meets milestone goals to address sexual violence on campuses

The University of California will meet its January goals toward implementing a comprehensive approach to addressing sexual violence on campuses, including the creation of a confidential student advocate and support office on each campus, it was announced today (Jan. 21).

These measures were among the seven recommendations the President’s Task Force on Preventing and Responding to Sexual Violence and Sexual Assault issued in September. An update on the task force’s progress was presented for discussion at the UC Board of Regents meeting at UC San Francisco’s Mission Bay campus.

“The task force acted with swift, deliberate purpose in meeting the timeline the members were given,” UC President Janet Napolitano told the board. “I am pleased to report that they will meet all four of the milestones they were charged with reaching by January. These are important steps in ensuring that UC policy on preventing and responding to sexual assault and sexual violence is consistent across the entire University of California.”

Over the past four months, UC has successfully implemented task force recommendations aimed at improving services and response to sexual violence and ensuring consistency across the system. These include:

  • Establishing a “CARE: Advocate Office for Sexual and Gender-Based Violence and Sexual Misconduct” on each of UC’s 10 campuses. The offices will have a full-time trained staff member on campus to provide crisis intervention to students and help them access campus resources such as psychological counseling, emergency housing and academic accommodations. The advocates will help students understand their reporting options and accompany them through the reporting process, if they choose to file a report. These are independent offices, separate from reporting and investigations.
  • Implementing a standardized two-team response model at all UC campuses for addressing sexual violence. A case management team will review all current sexual misconduct reports to ensure that institutional responses are timely and appropriate and that complainants and respondents receive fair, objective and equal consideration. A second team will focus on policies, community relations, prevention and intervention.
  • Launching a new systemwide website designed to serve as a user-friendly, one-stop portal for quick access to campus resources and important information. In addition, key information such as how to get help and reporting options is being standardized across all primary campus sexual violence websites.

The university also is working diligently on the other task force recommendations slated to launch in July. These include developing a comprehensive education and training program on each campus, identifying common tracking systemwide to help identify themes and considerations for areas to target and establishing unified investigation and adjudication standards and sanctions.

Before Napolitano formed the task force in June 2014, all 10 UC campuses had systems and programs in place to educate, prevent and respond to sexual violence, but practices varied from one campus to another. The task force’s seven recommendations aim to strengthen existing services and programs and ensure the university has a consistent systemwide approach to addressing sexual violence on campuses.

Napolitano also requested that the task force address an additional issue: providing appropriate services to respondents, or those accused of violations. This eighth recommendation will be implemented systemwide in July.

Last year, the university significantly broadened and clarified its policy against sexual violence and harassment, including domestic violence, stalking and date rape. UC adopted an affirmative consent standard that defines consent as unambiguous, voluntary, informed and revocable.

The task force, led by Senior Vice President and Chief Compliance and Audit Officer Sheryl Vacca, includes UC regents, survivors of sexual assault and their advocates, students, faculty, police and other administrative staff.

For more information on the task force, click here.