UC Berkeley will continue protecting survivors despite Title IX changes

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The Daily Californian’s Aug. 20 editorial, “UC Berkeley must reject, surpass new Title IX policies” greatly misstated how campus is addressing the new Title IX regulations. In doing so, the editorial provided readers with incorrect and misleading information that could deter them from seeking the assistance and support they need.

It is true that the new Title IX regulations that went into effect Aug. 14 give colleges and universities permission to no longer address a broad category of sexual misconduct. At UC Berkeley and across the UC system, however, we have chosen to surpass those standards.

UC Berkeley’s new sexual violence and sexual harassment, or SVSH, policy addresses not just the new Title IX regulations but also the same, broader set of prohibited SVSH conduct as before. This includes off-campus conduct and sexual harassment. For example, misconduct that occurs outside of the United States, such as during a study abroad program, is not covered under the new regulations, but we can apply other sections of the SVSH policy and/or other applicable policies to hold the individual accountable.

It is simply untrue that the “updated guidelines have narrowed the scope and drastically raised the bar, effectively preventing any accountability for sexual misconduct,” as the editorial states. In instances where the new Title IX regulations have narrowed definitions of prohibited conduct, we will apply other sections of the SVSH policy and, if applicable, other policies and laws to address misconduct.

Survivors continue to have the choice to pursue a formal complaint under UC Berkeley’s SVSH policy, and UC Berkeley respects that choice. Generally, survivors may also choose to engage in an alternative resolution of a complaint, which includes options across the conflict resolution spectrum, as appropriate given the severity of the allegation.

There is concern that during proceedings governed by the new regulations, a party’s adviser may be an attorney. But this has always been the case — advisers who are also attorneys have never been able to act as an attorney in the process. Moreover, the hearing officer ensures that parties do not have to answer inappropriate or irrelevant questions. Both complainants and respondents may continue to have an “adviser” of their choice with them, but all advisers must follow rules of decorum and respect during a hearing, or they may be removed.

There is no doubt that there are some areas of the new regulations and UC Berkeley’s SVSH policy that will, understandably, cause concern, stress and anxiety for survivors. Thus, it is critical that survivors — and everyone in the campus community — have accurate information about our processes and the resources available to them.

We encourage survivors to start with the confidential services we continue to provide at the PATH to Care Center. We have posted additional information on the new regulations at svsh.berkeley.edu. Detailed information and documents are also available at ophd.berkeley.edu.

Cherie Scricca is the acting UC Berkeley Title IX officer and director of the campus Office for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination. Kellie Brennan is the executive director of UC Berkeley’s civil rights and whistleblower compliance.