UC President Janet Napolitano issues new sexual violence, harassment prevention measures

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Phillip Downey/Senior Staff

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UC President Janet Napolitano has issued new sexual violence and sexual harassment prevention and response measures in light of recent concerns about how the campus has managed sexual misconduct cases.

The UC Office of the President has updated UC sexual violence and sexual harassment policy and implemented new mandatory online courses. Additionally, in a letter sent to UC chancellors March 11, Napolitano ordered the institution of a peer review committee with representatives from across all UC campuses that would assess all proposed sexual misconduct sanctions against senior leaders.

“Prompt and effective responses to findings of sexual harassment and sexual violence are key to changing behavior,” Napolitano said in a letter to Chancellor Nicholas Dirks.

Napolitano also appointed a joint committee of UC administration and Academic Senate members to develop recommendations on the entire process of investigation, adjudication and cases of sexual misconduct involving faculty.

“(Campus leaders) are coming forward with recommendations and suggestions for changes that we can make quickly that will have a significant impact on our culture and our practices,” said campus spokesperson Dan Mogulof.

Mogulof added that campus staff have been in detailed meetings on a day-to-day basis to implement changes.

Changes in UC sexual misconduct policy include a new definition of “responsible employee,” which requires every university employee to notify the Title IX office if they receive any information that a student has been a victim of sexual harassment or sexual violence.

Revisions to the policy also outline the process for reporting complaints and for the university to respond to such reports.

Currently on campus, when a policy violation is found in sexual misconduct cases involving students, disciplinary action is taken by the student conduct office, while for staff, it is taken by the individual’s manager and central Human Resources.

For cases involving faculty, the matter is referred to the vice provost, who appoints faculty investigators to determine whether misconduct as described in the Faculty Code of Conduct has occurred. Depending on their findings, the vice provost may move forward with further processes.

For many years now, the campus has used an online course to educate faculty and supervisors focused on sexual harassment, said Mari Knuth-Bouracee, director of sexual assault prevention and student advocacy.

Faculty and supervisors who are already required to complete training courses every two years will see an updated version of their sexual violence prevention course.

All other active employees will be required to complete a new course by May 1, 2016. This mandatory annual training is a video-based course and includes content about prohibited conduct and how such behavior should be reported. Both undergraduate and graduate students will also be required to complete a new online module through UCOP for their sexual harassment and sexual violence training.

Leah Romm, the ASUC student advocate, explained that as a new student, all she received in sexual harassment and sexual violence training was a brief presentation.

“It was definitely not the place that I learned a lot of prevention education that I now know,” she said. “I personally believe that the most effective education happens in small groups.”

Haley Broder, former ASUC senator, acknowledged that the university has been taking more prevention and education measures than it was three years ago.

Yes, some things are improving, some things are great, but at the same time we’re obviously not where we need to be and not where we think we are,” Broder said.

Contact Chantelle Lee at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @ChantelleHLee.