UC President Janet Napolitano testifies about sexual assault before US Senate

Napolitano addresses the UC Board of Regents, introducing a proposed freeze in undergraduate tuition for the 2014-15 school year as well 
as initiatives to increase transfer rates from community colleges to the UC system and reach complete energy efficiency systemwide by 2025.
Michelle Abiera/File
Napolitano addresses the UC Board of Regents, introducing a proposed freeze in undergraduate tuition for the 2014-15 school year as well as initiatives to increase transfer rates from community colleges to the UC system and reach complete energy efficiency systemwide by 2025.

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UC President Janet Napolitano and three experts testified before a U.S. Senate committee Friday on how legislation can address sexual assault on college campuses.

Napolitano recommended that sexual assault training take place “from the day (students) begin on campus” and emphasized the importance of protecting confidentiality in any law. Senator Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisconsin, said at the meeting that the University of California was “probably” a model for best practices in universities dealing with sexual assault.

The U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions is working on the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act. The new version will likely mandate confidential advisers for victims of sexual assault on college campuses and require universities to make agreements with local police departments on how to handle these cases.

According to Napolitano’s testimony, the UC system has set up confidential advocates on every campus to counsel and aid survivors of assault. The system has also implemented mandatory sexual assault training for all freshmen starting next year and has plans to expand these trainings to current students and staff.

“We’ve made a lot of progress in terms of the university taking it seriously and other students taking it seriously,” said Meghan Warner, a UC Berkeley junior and sexual assault survivor. “(But) it’s disingenuous to call us a national leader when we’re still having survivors go through the exact same issues.”

In her official testimony, Napolitano said the requirement that local police departments handle campus trainings on issues related to sexual violence is redundant, given the training that campus police already have.

At the meeting, Napolitano said that any requirement that sexual assault cases proceed to court could discourage survivors from reporting their assaults, and that the law needs to be clear on whether confidential advocates are “truly confidential” and whether they are required to report certain information.

“A confidential advocate allows the student to maintain agency over themselves and their situation,” said Leah Romm, ASUC student advocate, in an email. “If we take that incredibly important role away, students are going to be lost and, I think, less likely to report at all.”

One senator at the meeting brought up dealing with potential wrongful accusations of sexual assault. Napolitano said the UC system is currently trying to decide which types of support to give people who claim they were wrongfully accused.

Warner said that wrongful accusations of sexual assault make up only a small percentage of accusations and that they are already given undue precedence in sexual assault cases.

Senators from both sides of the aisle expressed their support for reducing sexual assault on college campuses.

“We’ve got to do everything we can to keep everyone safe on campus,” said Senator Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts, at the meeting.

Committee chair Lamar Alexander, R-Tennessee, said at the meeting that he hopes to complete writing the reauthorization by Thanksgiving.

Contact Mira Chaplin at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @mirachaplin.

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  • Willliam Wallace

    Mark T is a sicko, wannabe child rapist MT! Put him on the police watch list.

  • Willliam Wallace

    Janet Napolitano’s TSA gropes and sexually assaults thousands of innocent American Citizens daily! What a sucky faced hypocrite!

  • garyfouse

    I think I sent the wrong link. Here is Napolitano’s statement.


  • garyfouse

    Did Napolitano mention one word about alcohol and binge drinking parties in her testimony? Rape is a serious crime that should be handled by the police. The university has no clue.

    • ShirleyRManley


    • Dan Spitzer

      Excellent point, Gary. Our universities were not created to become judiciaries. That is and should remain the realm of the police and the courts…

      • thompson_richard

        Should the University of Cincinnatti Police Department become one of the judiciaries as Napolitano advises UC Berkeley Police Department become? According to Harper’s Index 2015: Twenty-eight (28) police officers in the United States have been prosecuted over the past decade for shooting someone in the back. Number convicted: 6

        • Dan Spitzer

          You make a good point, Richard. But CA is not the Midwest, the U of Cincinnati Police Dep’t is not that of UCB’s police force, and university officials and students have no grounding in the law. Hence for all its flaws, the legal authorities should preside over criminal acts, of which rape is surely one…

          • thompson_richard

            Probably the same firm that handles incarceration in Ferguson — or the INS (Secretary Napolitano used to head Homeland Security) — could provide ankle bracelets for Cal undergrads, too. She could get a special rate. Do you think the U Cincinnati Police Dep’t should be abolished? What automatic weapons do UCB police officers carry in the trunks of their cars? How many cars do they utilize? Armored Personnel Carriers? Would UCLA have more police cars/APCs/mobile crime labs — since the Southern Branch qualifies as a commuter campus? How much is the UCB’s police chief’s salary? (as contrasted with, say, the City of Richmond’s police chief?). What is Lieutenant Pike up to, now?

          • Dan Spitzer

            No reasonable person would take your absurd swill seriously. Only the fools in BSU, BAMN, and the likes of SJP would find anything other than nonsense in your idiocy. People like you hurt your own cause when you spout such sewage, but you are doubtless oblivious to this…

          • thompson_richard

            Thank you, thank you. For a minute there, I thought you thought I was partially on your side.

          • Dan Spitzer

            Well, Richard, I suspect that for you everything is literally black and white…

          • thompson_richard

            Much of the attention on Cisa has been directed at companies such as Google, Facebook and Comcast, which have large hoards of internet user behavior. But arguably more important are data brokers. Among the groups lobbying for the passage of Cisa are Experian, which tracks consumer trends using information from loyalty cards and other sources and licenses the information to help target advertising; Oracle, whose Data Cloud product works similarly; and Hitrust, which aggregates healthcare information.

            Someone recommends DuckDuckGo as a search engine.

      • garyfouse

        here is the full text of her statement. (Not inc and q and a)

  • Mark Talmont

    An 8-year-old girl was just raped and strangled to death in Santa Cruz, lured to her death with a promise of ice cream. I wonder if the Santa Cruz schools have a program to educate children about such risks? Probably not. There is no such requirement imposed by the state.

    California has really got it’s priorities straight, huh (oops is “straight” a micro-aggression yet?)