I am pleased to share with you new versions of the following policies and procedures:
- Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment (SVSH) Policy (revised as of July 31. 2019)
- PACAOS Appendix E: SVSH Student Investigation and Adjudication Framework
- SVSH Investigation and Adjudication Framework for Senate and Non-Senate Faculty
- SVSH Investigation and Adjudication Framework for Staff and Non-Faculty Academic Personnel
The above policies and procedures all have an effective date of July 31, 2019. Summarized below are the key revisions, the impetus for the changes, and other information of note.
Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment Policy (SVSH Policy):
Over the course of 2019, the Systemwide Title IX Office sought and received significant input on the SVSH Policy from students, faculty, and staff from across the system. The office considered all of the input carefully, and consulted on responsive changes with Title IX officers, Student Conduct directors, CARE directors, and Respondent Services Coordinators; the Title IX Student Advisory Board; and the Office of General Counsel (OGC).
The revised SVSH Policy addresses critical concerns identified through this extensive review process. It also includes changes required by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) in its February 2018 resolution agreement with UC Berkeley, and additions recommended by the California State Auditor (CSA) in its June 2018 report.
I call your attention to these key revisions:
- A fuller explanation of what the policy covers, such as acts committed by and against third parties, and of how the Title IX offices evaluate reports to decide whether to initiate a resolution process;
- Changes to definitions of prohibited conduct, including sexual assault, relationship violence, and retaliation;
- A more detailed description of the informal (Alternative Resolution) process, and parties’ rights in that process;
- Addition of a 30- to 60-day timeframe for Alternative Resolution, and extension of the timeframe for the Formal Investigation process from 60 days to 90 days;
- Provision for the Title IX officer to initiate investigations under certain circumstances despite the absence of an identifiable, individual respondent or, alternatively, the lack of a specific complainant; and
- Changes to improve clarity and readability.
The policy also includes several new references to guidelines developed by the Systemwide Title IX Office. CSA recommended that we better define some of our practices, and agreed that could be done in separate guidelines, if referenced in the policy. The Systemwide Title IX Office issued the guidelines (Guidelines) to the Title IX officers earlier this month.
PACAOS Appendix E: SVSH Student Investigation and Adjudication Framework (Appendix E):
In January 2019, a California appellate court ruled that colleges and universities in the state must hold live hearings to resolve certain sexual misconduct cases. Because the University had been resolving SVSH cases using an investigative model rather than a hearing model, we had to immediately revise our student framework to comply with the ruling. This resulted in an interim version of the framework (Interim Appendix E), issued March 1, 2019.
While Interim Appendix E was in place, a workgroup formed by the Systemwide Title IX Office and Student Affairs carefully considered what a hearing model that makes sense for UC should include. That workgroup included representatives of stakeholder groups across the system, including students, faculty, Title IX, Student Conduct, CARE, Respondent Services, and OGC. The revised version of Appendix E issued with this letter reflects the careful work of that workgroup, input of key stakeholders at your locations, feedback from the broader UC community, and partnership among Student Affairs, OGC, and the Systemwide Title IX Office.
The process detailed in the new Appendix E includes the following important components:
- the Title IX office conducting a thorough and impartial investigation, making factual findings, and reaching a preliminary determination of whether the respondent violated the SVSH Policy;
- the equal right of both parties to present, review, and respond to evidence during the investigation;
- the opportunity for the parties to accept the investigator’s preliminary determination and any sanction proposed by Student Conduct, thereby foregoing a hearing;
- alternatively, the equal opportunity for the parties to contest the investigator’s preliminary determination and have a hearing to determine whether the respondent violated the SVSH Policy;
- assignment of a hearing coordinator, separate from a hearing officer, to coordinate hearings;
- more defined pre-hearing procedures, including a pre-meeting with the hearing officer to help educate each party about the process, and promote an orderly, productive and respectful hearing;
- measures to ensure the well-being of parties during the hearing, such as:
- visual or physical separation, if desired;
- presence of an advisor and support person; and
- the opportunity to take breaks;
- the equal opportunity for the parties to propose questions to be asked of each other and witnesses at the hearing. Note that only the hearing officer can ask the questions – not the parties or their representatives – and the hearing officer will first screen the questions to ensure they are relevant, and not harassing or unduly repetitive; and
- a limited right to appeal that is equal for both parties.
Resources to help the UC community understand the changes to Appendix E are available on the Systemwide Title IX Office’s website.
You should continue applying Interim Appendix E to all cases already in the adjudication stage as of July 31, 2019. Cases are in the adjudication stage if the investigation is complete and the Title IX Office sent the parties written notice of the investigation findings, but the case is not yet fully resolved. You should apply revised Appendix E to all other cases.
Investigation and Adjudication Framework for Senate and Non-Senate Faculty (Faculty Framework) and Investigation and Adjudication Framework for Staff and Non-Faculty Academic Personnel (Staff Framework):
To improve disciplinary outcomes, CSA recommended that the University require that decision-makers consult with Title IX officers before deciding discipline for employee respondents found in violation of the SVSH Policy. In response, the Systemwide Title IX Office revised the Faculty Framework and Staff Framework to require that Chancellors and Chancellors’ designees consult with their campus Title IX officers before deciding discipline for faculty, staff, or non-faculty academic personnel.
To ensure prompt resolution of complaints against faculty respondents, CSA also recommended that the University require, in cases that go before the Committee on Privilege and Tenure, that Chancellors make final disciplinary decisions within 14 calendar days of receiving the Committee’s recommendation. In response, the Systemwide Title IX Office added this timeline to the Faculty Framework.
The revised frameworks went through systemwide consultation and review. The versions issued with this letter include clarifications and other non-substantive revisions recommended through that process. The Staff Framework also includes language clarifying that in the event of a conflict between the framework and a collective bargaining agreement for represented staff or academic personnel, the collective bargaining agreement will apply.
Updates to Local Procedures:
Please ensure that your location promptly updates its local procedures to align with the revised SVSH Policy, Appendix E, Faculty Framework, Staff Framework and Guidelines.
Note on U.S. Department of Education’s Proposed Title IX Rules:
The U.S. Department of Education published proposed Title IX rules in November 2018. These rules would dictate how schools respond to sexual harassment complaints. UC has serious concerns about several aspects of the proposed rules, and has taken a strong and public stance against them. The policies I disseminate with this letter do not implement the proposed Title IX rules. When the Department eventually issues the rules, we will respond thoughtfully, keeping the security and well-being of our students and the broader community paramount. Until then, we will continue our efforts to persuade the Department of Education to revise the rules to address the concerns we have identified.
The new policies, procedures, and Guidelines are important to our ongoing efforts to combatting sexual harassment, including sexual violence. I appreciate your attention to ensure they are implemented, and the care, commitment, and integrity that the professionals at your locations bring to this work every day.
President of the University of California