Sex assault prevention training to become mandatory across UC, according to task force

Kevin Cheung/Staff

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Training on sexual assault prevention will become mandatory for all incoming students across the University of California in fall, according to one of several Thursday updates from the UC president’s task force on sexual assault presented to the UC Board of Regents.

In addition to the training program, the regents were updated on efforts to provide fair support for students accused of assault and to standardize investigation approaches across the 10 campuses, as well as the establishment of a data system to evaluate the effect of these efforts. The task force, established in June 2014, proposed eight recommendations on addressing and preventing sexual assault across the UC system — four of which were implemented in January.

According to the presentation, the university is vetting a draft investigation standard and adjudication model, which is planned to be finalized in September and implemented by January.

Sheryl Vacca, senior vice president and chief compliance and audit officer who leads the task force, said during the presentation that the task force will continue engaging with student leadership and that students are the main focus of its recommendations.

“Involving students is really helping make it as successful as it is, especially student survivors that have the courage to be involved and share their perspectives to make this work,” said Regent Bonnie Reiss during the meeting.

ASUC Student Advocate Leah Romm said that during her involvement in a working group under the task force, students were taken seriously, and their concerns were heard.

“That being said, not all such concerns are addressed,” Romm said in an email. “Different students have different, valid interests, while the UC needs to ensure that they are able to balance their educational mission, their mission to keep campuses safe, and their mission to ensure that all students are treated equally.”

The presentation also discussed providing “fair and equitable” support to respondents, or students accused of sexual assault, with the university implementing a respondent services coordinator position in September on all campuses.

Meghan Warner, director of the ASUC Sexual Assault Commission and recent appointee to the task force, expressed concerns that the coordinator’s access to information on assault cases will hurt survivors. Warner said that the coordinators could use that information to make the investigation process more time consuming and that the survivors could eventually quit.

Warner also said she was hoping that the university’s investigation and sanction standards could be better reformed, noting that education on sexual assault has been taken significantly more seriously and that general awareness across the UC system has become much higher since the establishment of the task force.

From fall 2015 onward, all new students will be required to participate in the systemwide sexual assault training program within the first six weeks of classes — training that is already mandatory at UC Berkeley. Programs for faculty and staff are expected to start in January.

Contact Tianyi Dong at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @dong_tianyi.

A previous version of this article may have implied that Meghan Warner said the creation of respondent services coordinators would slow down the investigation process because they would be a bureaucratic hurdle. In fact, Warner said that the coordinators could have access to confidential information and use that information to slow down the process.