University of California Forms Task Force to Prevent Sexual Assaults on Campuses

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    NEWSLETTERS

    University of California President Janet Napolitano announced Friday that she is forming a task force to oversee the university's efforts to prevent sexual violence on all UC campuses, medical centers and facilities. Christie Smith reports.

    University of California President Janet Napolitano announced Friday that she is forming a task force to oversee the university's efforts to prevent sexual violence on all UC campuses, medical centers and facilities.

    Napolitano said in a statement, "Sexual violence is a serious crime that we will never tolerate. All 10 of our campuses already have comprehensive programs to respond to, and prevent, sexual violence and sexual harassment."

    She said, "We aim to be the national leader in combating sexual violence on campus, and the mission of this new task force is to continue to review and improve our efforts to make sure the University of California employs innovative, evidence-based and consistent practices across the system."

    The task force members include two members of the UC Board of Regents, Bonnie Reiss and Karen Leong Clancy, and representatives from campus police, victim advocacy groups, campus Title IX officers, student conduct officers, systemwide and campus administrators, and an undergraduate and graduate student representative.

    Napolitano said the task force will develop best practices for all areas of sexual violence prevention, investigation, and response systemwide.

    UC officials said that earlier this year they strengthened their policy against sexual and domestic violence, stalking and harassment as part of its ongoing compliance with the federal Violence Against Women Act.

    They said that expanded policy coincided with an increasing focus across the UC system on the broader issues of respect and inclusion within the university community.

    The policy changes included more training and education, increased reporting requirements, broader protections for victims, and specific sanctions and protective measures that the university may impose after a final disciplinary determination.

    The policy also includes more explicit definitions of wrongful conduct.

    UC officials said an example is the description of "consent," which is now defined as "an affirmative, unambiguous and conscious decision by each participant to engage in mutually agreed-upon sexual activity."

    Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-California, recently asked about UC's efforts to prevent and respond to sexual violence on campus.

    Napolitano said she has responded by outlining specific steps that the university has taken, such as campus climate surveys, comprehensive prevention programs and strategies, trained confidential victims' advocates and training programs for campus officials.

    She said other steps include assistance to sexual victims, including partnerships with rape crisis and domestic violence centers, protocols for local law enforcement and campus mediation processes for sexual assault under student disciplinary codes.