UC implements sexual assault prevention e-courses for faculty, staff

Kevin Cheung/Staff

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Starting at the end of the month, the University of California will require its staff and faculty to take two online training courses on sexual violence and harassment prevention.

On Jan. 1, the university implemented a policy applying to all UC employees that requires Title IX offices to investigate reports of sexual assault. At the recommendation of the UC President’s Task Force on Preventing and Responding to Sexual Violence and Sexual Assault, all faculty and staff will now be mandated to complete the training to demonstrate their understanding of the systemwide changes in sexual assault investigation policy.

“The aim is to inform faculty and staff not only about what sexual harassment and sexual violence is, but also what responsibilities they bear on campus if and when they hear reports of such misconduct,” said ASUC Student Advocate Leah Romm. “If our faculty and staff are uninformed or unaware of policies, procedures and responsibilities, they are not able to fully support students.”

According to UC spokesperson Rebecca Trounson, the training will include videos and scenario-based questions that will give employees information about the updated policy, legal requirements and how to be “a responsible employee under Title IX,” a federal civil rights law stating that no program or activity that receives federal funding can discriminate on the basis of gender.

The training for faculty and supervisors, who were already required to take an online course on UC sexual assault policy, will take about two hours to complete with the added and updated content, keeping in line with the length of the current training. Nonsupervisory staff members, previously excluded from the training, are now required to take a similar 50-minute course.

“I think that enhanced training for faculty and staff is a positive step,” said Meghan Warner, a UC Berkeley senior and student member of the sexual assault task force. “Too many professors have refused accommodations for survivors, harassed and assaulted students, or ignored relevant issues in their department.”

Romm, while acknowledging that the new courses were a good step toward providing a foundation and teaching the basics of handling sexual misconduct, emphasized the importance of educating faculty and staff outside of an online module.

She also said the university should put methods in place to hold faculty and staff accountable when they do not comply with UC sexual assault policy.

“It’s one thing to read and learn rules and then take a quiz, but it’s another thing to have in-depth and inquisitive discussions about where these policies come from, who wrote them, why they’re important and what further steps faculty and staff can take to support students,” she said.

The two new e-courses will be available for all employees to take beginning Jan. 31 and must be completed by nonsupervisory staff by May 1, or within six weeks of hire for those employed after May 1.

Contact Sujin Shin at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @sujinjshin.