Campus allegedly violates federal law on sexual assault prevention training

Jamin Kim-Sanders/Staff

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A campus law student informed the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, or OCR, that the campus may be violating federal law and UC policy by not providing sufficient sexual assault prevention trainings to incoming graduate students.

Although the campus aims to train 2,800 to 3,000 incoming graduate students, less than half of these students had received training as of the end of October, according to Jane Fink, events manager of the Graduate Division.

Recognizing the importance of these trainings, the campus’s Coordinated Community Review Team planned to include four trainings at New Graduate Student Orientation before UC policy made it mandatory.

The university subsequently incorporated training into its June Interim Policy on Sexual Health and Sexual Violence, following the OCR’s requirement for schools to provide age-appropriate training to students and employees on Title IX and sexual violence.

The July report from the UC President’s Task Force on Preventing and Responding to Sexual Violence and Sexual Assault recommended that all incoming students be trained within six weeks of classes starting.

“Everyone is trying to do this work the right way rather than rush to complete self-imposed deadlines,” said UC spokesperson Kate Moser.

Moser said the content of the trainings is guided by the task force and survivors on campus, who want to see the trainings executed correctly.

“They’re taking this very seriously — it’s a federal regulation,” said Fink, who coordinated three trainings last week with the support of the campus’s confidential care advocates.

Graduate students who did not complete the training did not face a registration block during registration this week. The Graduate Division is recording attendance, which may be used for future registration blocks.

“(Participation) is really important,” said Cory Hernandez, who issued the complaint. “(Graduate student instructors) interact with students … and are more likely to come from a host of different cultures that are not as likely to know about the laws of UC and the laws of the country.”

Training for graduate students is not a new policy for the campus. The campus currently requires sexual harassment training for all GSIs. Briefly in 2011, training was also required for all incoming students. Workshops, tailored by the campus Gender Equity Resource Center, were also made available.

The new trainings address sexual violence, resources available on campus and bystander intervention strategies tailored to the audience’s ages. Three more sessions have been scheduled for November.

Subsequent training will eventually be rolled out to designated employees of the university as well.

“This message is what sets the climate on campus,” said Jessica Burleigh, a first-year graduate student in the departments of public health and social welfare. “I think it would be really important to make this mandatory for school staff and faculty.”

According to the task force report, a staff training and education plan is in process and a work group will revise the current sexual harassment prevention training required of faculty every two years. Students will also be required to complete ongoing training, such as the CampusClarity module, an online sexual violence prevention program.

Contact Pamela Larson at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @PamReporting.

A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the campus Coordinated Community Review Team organized the sexual assault prevention trainings. In fact, the Graduate Assembly organized them.