Update 11/30/17: This article has been updated to reflect additional information from UC spokesperson Claire Doan.
The University of California is extending applications for its Title IX student advisory board, which will provide direct feedback and advice to the UC Title IX office regarding the university’s response to sexual violence and sexual harassment.
The Title IX office opened applications Nov. 14 for the board, which will consist of 19 members. All 10 UC campuses will have a graduate student representative on the board, and all campuses except UCSF will also have an undergraduate representative. The application states that the board was created to establish a direct relationship between UC students and the Title IX office, which is responsible for handling UC policy on sexual violence and sexual harassment.
Applications were originally due Nov. 30, but the deadline has been extended to Dec. 8.
UC systemwide Title IX coordinator Kathleen Salvaty said in an emailed statement that after taking office last spring, she received multiple requests from students to implement a student advisory board. The Title IX office collaborated with the student affairs division of the UC Office of the President and student regent Paul Monge to create the board. The board will meet in person twice a year and also have regular conference calls.
“Students are critical stakeholders in our efforts to prevent and respond to sexual violence and sexual harassment,” Salvaty said in her emailed statement.
Rosa Kwak, a former ASUC senator who focused on sexual violence policy and prevention during her term, said she believes a student advisory board will provide the UC with honest feedback and hold the Title IX office accountable. Kwak said students on the board could look into the process of filing reports and determine whether certain UC policies are in the best interest of sexual misconduct survivors.
The launch of the student advisory board comes amid several Title IX-related scandals at UC Berkeley and across the UC system. In February, The Daily Californian received hundreds of pages of documents showing 124 cases of sexual misconduct in the UC system over a three-year period.
The majority of the investigations occurred before UC President Janet Napolitano’s sexual violence and misconduct policy reform that came in response to high-profile investigations surrounding former UC Berkeley faculty members, including former UC Berkeley School of Law dean Sujit Choudhry.
“We need to have more stringent policies for the way we handle faculty and administration (in Title IX investigations),” said ASUC Senator Katya Yamamoto. “We’ve had a lot of notable cases that I don’t think were handled well.”
According to Salvaty, although members of the student advisory board will not be informed about specific investigations, they may receive general information about the Title IX processes and procedures.
Sarah Abdeshahian, a UC Berkeley sophomore and spokesperson for Monge, said the new board will ensure more student input in the UC’s efforts to uphold Title IX, especially in light of new interim Title IX policy guidelines for college campuses issued in September by U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.
“(Input has) been coming from faculty and UCOP, and they don’t have the experience that students have,” Abdeshahian said. “It’s a big deal if we continue to have these conversations about why Title IX is important — having conversation allows us to take action.”