UC Task Force Offers Recommendations on Combating Campus Sexual Misconduct

Students walk through Sproul Plaza on the UC Berkeley campus in April 2012. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Students walk through Sproul Plaza on the UC Berkeley campus in April 2012. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

University of California students who are raped or sexually assaulted on or near campus could soon turn to a special office for help. It’s one of seven key recommendations presented by a UC task force that was created to combat and prevent sexual violence.

The recommendations, presented to the UC Board of Regents at its meeting on the Mission Bay campus Wednesday, are designed to create a more uniform and systemwide approach to dealing with the issue.

The plan begins with establishing an independent and confidential advocacy office at each UC campus exclusively for these cases. That recommendation won praise from U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Rep. Susan Davis (D-San Diego), who issued a joint statement saying the system is “setting a powerful example for colleges across the country.”

Another recommendation would require ongoing mandatory anti-sexual assault training for all UC students, staff and faculty.

“[[Mandatory training]]will be very costly but, frankly, it is the students who will change our culture,” said Sheryl Vaca, chairwoman of UC’s Task Force on Preventing and Responding to Sexual Violence and Sexual Assault.

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UC Berkeley now requires mandatory training of its students after the university was placed on a federal watch list for the way it has handled sexual assault cases.

UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks announced that roughly 500 students have been blocked from registering for their classes because they have not completed the requirement.

Funding for the initiative is still unclear, but UC President Janet Napolitano says she is committed to implementing the recommendations. She wants the system to be a national leader in combating sexual assault and violence on campus.

“We at the University of California must maintain zero tolerance for sexual violence and assault. I am committed ensuring the University of California paves the way.”

You can read the task force’s complete report and list of recommendations here: http://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/sites/default/files/report_9152014.pdf

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In the last three years, the U.S. Department of Education has made sexual assault prevention a priority, launching more investigations and levying more fines against universities than ever before.

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