Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some frequently asked questions under these categories:

 


General

What is the difference between sexual violence, sexual assault and sexual harassment?

Sexual Violence means physical sexual acts without the consent of the other person or when the other person is unable to give consent. Sexual violence includes sexual assault, rape, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking.

Sexual Assault occurs when physical, sexual activity is engaged in without the consent of the other person, or when the other person is unable to consent to the activity. The activity or conduct may include physical force, violence, threat, intimidation, ignoring the objections of the other person, causing the other person’s intoxication or incapacitation (through the use of drugs or alcohol) or taking advantage of the other person’s intoxication (including voluntary intoxication).

Sexual Harassment includes behavior such as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors and other conduct of a sexual nature. It is conduct that affects a person’s employment or education or interferes with a person’s work or educational performance or creates an environment that a reasonable person would find intimidating, hostile or offensive.

For more information about these and other frequently used terms, visit the University of California's Sexual Violence & Prevention Response Glossary page.

Consent is an affirmative, unambiguous and conscious decision by each participant to mutually agreed-upon sexual activity. Consent is voluntary and must be given without coercion, force, threats or intimidation.

Consent is revocable. Consent to some form of sexual activity does not imply consent to other forms of sexual activity. Consent on one occasion is not consent to engage in sexual activity on another occasion. A current or previous dating or sexual relationship, by itself, is not sufficient to constitute consent. Even in the context of a relationship, there must be mutual consent to engage in sexual activity. Consent must be ongoing throughout a sexual encounter and can be revoked any time. Once consent is withdrawn, the sexual activity must stop immediately.

Consent cannot be given when someone is incapacitated, unconscious, coming in and out of consciousness, or if that person’s understanding of the act is affected by a physical or mental impairment.

What are my responsibilities as a member of the UC community?

UC expects every member of the university community to be respectful of others and to help foster a safe environment free of harassment, exploitation and intimidation.  Everyone at UC — students, faculty, academic appointees and staff — has a responsibility to know and comply with UC’s Policy on Sexual Violence and Sexual HarassmentPDF, codes of conduct and relevant state laws. UC also expects everyone to take the education and training courses offered by the university. Faculty, other academic appointees and staff are required to take sexual harassment prevention training as required. Managers, supervisors and certain employees such as athletic coaches, faculty advisors, teaching assistants and resident advisors, are required to promptly forward reports of sexual violence and sexual harassment to the Title IX officer.

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"Responsible Employees" Who Are Required to Report

Which UC employees are required to report sexual violence or sexual harassment to the Title IX officer, and are considered “Responsible Employees”?

Under the UC Policy on Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment, any UC employee who is not identified as a confidential resource is a “Responsible Employee” required to report sexual violence, sexual harassment or other conduct prohibited by the policy to the Title IX officer or designee.

There are different reporting responsibilities, depending on whether the incident involves a student or a non-student.

All UC employees: All UC employees who are not designated as confidential must inform the Title IX officer if they become aware that a student (undergraduate, graduate, or professional) has experienced sexual violence, sexual harassment, or other behavior prohibited by the university’s policy. This includes managers and supervisors, all faculty (including faculty advisors), all staff, athletic coaches and student employees. Responsible employees include both represented and non-represented employees.

Faculty, managers and supervisors, Human Resources, Academic Personnel and campus police: All managers and supervisors, Human Resources, Academic Personnel, faculty and campus police must inform the Title IX officer if they receive a report of prohibited behavior from anyone affiliated with the university, which includes faculty, staff and others affiliated with the university.

Are employees who don’t have supervisory duties considered Responsible Employees?

Yes. All UC employees, including those who don’t directly supervise anyone, are Responsible Employees who must notify the Title IX officer if, while they’re working, they learn that a student may have experienced sexual violence or sexual harassment.

Are student employees Responsible Employees?

Yes. Resident advisors, teaching assistants and all other student employees are Responsible Employees when, while they’re working, they learn about a student experiencing sexual violence or sexual harassment.

I am a Responsible Employee. How do I fulfill my obligation?

As a Responsible Employee, you must contact your campus Title IX office as soon as possible when you learn of an incident of sexual violence or sexual harassment and share whatever information you have, including the names of any individuals involved, their contact information, and any details of the incident you have.

As a Responsible Employee, you should report directly to the Title IX office, even if you are unsure that the incident actually occurred or unsure whether it constitutes sexual harassment or sexual violence. You should not investigate the report, and should not try to intervene or resolve the issue

The Title IX officer will assess the information you provide, and will work with the appropriate people to determine next steps.

While information must be provided to the Title IX office, responsible employees should not discuss the case with other people who do not have a legitimate need to know.

What happens after a Responsible Employee gives the information to the Title IX officer?

The Title IX officer will evaluate the report and respond as outlined under university policy. The Title IX officer will reach out to the person who reported experiencing the sexual violence or sexual harassment to provide information about confidential resources and reporting options.  This outreach allows the person to make an informed choice about how they wish to proceed.

As a Responsible Employee, if someone tells me about an incident of sexual violence or sexual harassment, should I tell them I need to report it? What if they asked me to keep it confidential?   

Before the individual tells you about an incident of sexual violence or sexual harassment, you should inform the person that you are a Responsible Employee and that you are required to report incidents of sexual violence, sexual harassment or other conduct prohibited by university policy to the Title IX officer. You should tell the person that you cannot keep reports of sexual harassment or sexual violence confidential, but that the Title IX officer will consider requests for confidentiality.

You should also inform the person telling you about sexual violence or sexual harassment that there are confidential resources available to them, including the CARE Advocate Office, which serves survivors of sexual violence and sexual harassment. Providing this information upfront allows the individual to decide whether to talk to you or go to a confidential resource.

Where can I get more information about being a Responsible Employee?

Employees can contact their location’s Title IX office for guidance and advice about how to fulfill their Responsible Employee obligations.

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Education & Training

Does UC offer education and training for students, faculty, academic appointees and staff on sexual violence issues?

Yes. Every UC location provides education and training to help all members of the campus community better understand sexual violence and how to prevent it. Starting in fall 2014, UC campuses offered systemwide sexual violence training to all incoming students. To find out how to access the education and training at your campus, visit our education and training webpage.

Starting July 2015, UC will begin implementing a comprehensive systemwide sexual violence prevention and intervention training and education plan for all members of the UC community — students, staff, faculty and other academic appointees. This plan will augment existing training.

The plan is to revise the content in the current sexual harassment prevention training so that it meets UC’s systemwide curriculum. Specifically, the revised content will provide information for faculty and supervisors on how to notify the university if they receive an allegation of sexual violence/assault/harassment.  Faculty and academic appointees who work directly with students would be required to take additional training.

What is the sexual violence prevention education and training requirement for students, faculty and staff?

Students

All incoming students are required to take the education and training program at their campus within the first six weeks of class. All continuing students are required to take ongoing education and training annually.

Faculty and Supervisors

Faculty and Supervisors are legally required to complete two hours of sexual harassment prevention training every two years, and new faculty and supervisors are required to take training within 90 days of hire. Starting January 2016, a systemwide faculty/supervisor training and education program was implemented that revised the content in the sexual harassment prevention training so that it meets UC’s systemwide curriculum. It also includes additional training for those who work directly with students such as faculty student advisors. Faculty and supervisors also receive training on their legal obligations to report sexual violence. In addition, faculty and supervisors will receive other violence prevention training on an annual basis reminding them of their obligation and processes for notifying Title IX offices about sexual violence and sexual harassment.

Staff and academic appointees who are not supervisors

Staff who are not supervisors will also be required to complete sexual harassment and sexual violence prevention training. UC’s systemwide staff training and education program requires new employees to receive training within the first six weeks of hire. All staff will receive training annually. The new training will include information on their responsibility to report sexual violence and sexual harassment if the incident involves a student.

What concepts are covered in UC’s education and training program?

The key concepts covered in UC’s systemwide curriculum are:

  • Definitions of different forms of sexual violence
  • Social norms, including the attitudes and beliefs that can normalize violence
  • Bystander intervention
  • Responding to sexual violence using methods that acknowledge the impact of violence and trauma on survivors’ lives
  • Local resources, including confidential support for survivors of sexual violence and appropriate services for those accused of sexual violence
  • Rights and options about reporting sexual violence

Do I have to take education and training every year?

For students, education and training is an annual requirement as part of UC’s efforts to prevent and respond to sexual violence on campuses. The systemwide education and training program for faculty and staff is being refined, and will include refresher training every year.

Is the education and training course the same at every UC campus?

The core elements of the curriculum are consistent across the UC system; however, campuses have flexibility in the way they deliver the UC systemwide curriculum. For example, some campuses offer an online course while others provide in-person training. Campuses will use the systemwide e-courses for faculty, supervisors, and non-supervisory staff but may offer other alternatives as well that meet the curricular and legal requirements for content.

Do students, faculty and staff take the same education and training course?

The key concepts are the same for all audiences, but the curriculum is tailored to what each audience needs to know. For example, faculty, other supervisors, and staff (including academic personnel who are not supervisors) will receive tailored training on their responsibilities to report sexual violence as well as how to support students affected by sexual violence.

Does this new systemwide education and training replace the sexual harassment prevention training that faculty and staff currently are required to take every two years?

The content in the existing sexual harassment prevention training was revised so that it meets UC’s systemwide curriculum. Specifically, the revised content provides information for faculty and supervisors on how to notify the university if they receive an allegation of sexual violence/assault/harassment. Faculty and academic appointees who work directly with students would be required to take additional training. A new in-person training with a UC-content focus will be developed in 2016 as well.

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If You’ve Been Accused

Where can I go for information and help if I've been accused of sexual violence?

You can speak to your campus respondent services coordinator, who is a trained individual who can help you understand your rights, explain the investigation and adjudication process, and refer you to campus and community resources that you may need.

Find your campus respondent services coordinator

What services does the respondent services coordinator provide?

The respondent services coordinator can:

  • Help you understand your rights
  • Explain and help you navigate the investigation and adjudication process
  • Refer you to campus and community resources for psychological counseling, legal services, alternative housing, academic changes and other needs
  • Assist with securing an interpreter or translator, if needed

Will the respondent services coordinator keep what I tell them confidential?

As a general practice, respondent services coordinators will request written consent from you before sharing personally identifiable information that you’ve provided.

Respondent services coordinators are not required by state or federal law to keep information confidential. If the university receives a court order to provide information, the respondent services coordinator will be legally required to disclose it. In this scenario, the coordinator will try to inform you that information will be disclosed beforehand, if possible.

If I’ve been accused, what are my rights?

You have the right to due process, meaning you have the right to be notified of the allegations and an opportunity to respond to them. You also have the right to understand the university’s investigation and adjudication process. Your campus respondent services coordinator can explain your rights to you and refer you to campus and community resources you may need, such as for alternative housing and academic changes.

Should I hire an attorney?

Hiring an attorney is a personal decision. The respondent services coordinator can refer you to legal services that may be available to help you better understand your options.

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Student Investigation/Adjudication Model and Sanctions

Undergraduate and graduate students who have experienced sexual violence can speak confidentially to their campus CARE advocate to understand their rights and reporting options, including the option not to report. Students will also receive written explanations of these rights and reporting options. In addition, CARE advocates will inform students about counseling and other support resources that are available. Students accused of sexual violence or sexual harassment can contact their local Respondent Services Coordinator to help them understand their rights, the university’s investigation and adjudication process, and available resources.

How does the new systemwide investigation/adjudication model work?

If a student decides to file a report of sexual violence with the university, the campus Title IX office will conduct a fair, thorough and impartial investigation and make factual findings and a recommendation as to whether a policy violation has occurred.

The Office of Student Conduct will review the investigation report and determine if the allegations have been substantiated and if UC’s Sexual Violence/Sexual Harassment policy has been violated. Both students will have an opportunity to meet with Student Conduct before a final decision is made. If there has been a policy violation, Student Conduct will assess the disciplinary sanction(s). Students will be notified of any sanctions within 10 business days of the notice of findings, as well as options for appealing.

How do the new systemwide investigation guidelines, adjudication model and sanctions process differ from UCs previous practice?

Campuses have long had investigation and adjudication processes in place to respond to reports of sexual violence and sexual harassment.

The new systemwide model establishes a consistent and efficient process for the investigation and adjudication of complaints of sexual violence and sexual harassment against students, and assigns specific authority, roles and responsibilities to certain offices to ensure consistency across the UC system. The new model outlines a trauma-informed (using practices that are sensitive to those who have experienced trauma) and fair process for the student filing the complaint (complainant) and the student responding to the complaint (respondent), allowing both an equal opportunity to be heard, to offer witnesses and evidence, to comment and to appeal. It also sets projected timeframes for the investigation, adjudication and appeals process in order to provide a prompt and effective response to complaints.

Do I have to wait until the investigation and adjudication process is completed before the university will provide me with assistance or accommodations? 

No. When the university learns of an incident of alleged sexual violence or sexual harassment, it will work with the complainant to put into place appropriate interim measures as needed to ensure the complainant’s safety, well-being, and equal access to university programs and activities. These measures could include no contact orders, housing assistance, academic support and accommodations, counseling, or other appropriate actions as needed.

What is the minimum/maximum sanction for a student found in violation of the policy?

When determining a sanction, the Office of Student Conduct will consider the violation itself as well as other factors including the severity of the sexual violence or sexual harassment. The universitys model establishes a range of potential sanctions for each offense that all Offices of Student Conduct systemwide will consider, depending on the violation and the particular circumstances of the case.

Sanctions can range, depending on the offense, up to dismissal from the university for the most serious matters.

What if I disagree with the results of the investigation, the Office of Student Conducts finding or the sanction? Can I appeal?

Yes. Both the complainant and the respondent have the right to appeal the findings and/or the sanction by submitting a written request to the Office of Student Conduct within 10 business days of receiving written notice of the decision and any sanctions that may be imposed. The appeal should identify the reason(s) the student is challenging the outcome, under one or more of the grounds outlined in the model.

An appeal board, made up of one to three appropriately trained individuals, will hear the matter and decide whether to uphold, overturn or modify the decision or sanctions.

If the appeal board upholds the decision, then the matter is over. If the appeal board overturns or modifies either the findings or the sanctions, either student has one additional opportunity to appeal by submitting a written request to the chancellor or the chancellor’s designee within 5 business days.

If I disagree with the decision of the chancellor or the chancellor’s designee, can I appeal again?

No, there is no additional appeal after the chancellor’s or chancellor’s designees decision. The two-level appeal process is designed to ensure a fair independent review in the event a student disagrees with a decision.

How long does the investigation and adjudication process take?

UC aims to complete investigations and determine any disciplinary sanctions within 60 business days. If a student files an appeal, UC will aim to complete the entire process — investigation, adjudication and appeal — within 120 business days from the date the Title IX office receives the report of sexual violence. The timeframes are designed to bring a timely resolution for both the complainant and respondent.

The appropriate campus personnel will keep both students informed throughout the process.

Will my name be kept confidential during the investigation?

Generally, the complainant and respondent will be notified of each other’s identity, in order to conduct a fair investigation.

The university will make every effort to protect the confidentiality and privacy of both the complainant and the respondent to the extent permitted by law and UC policy. Some UC personnel who are involved in the case will necessarily have access to personal information, including identifying information, in order to effectively respond to the complaint and maintain a safe environment for students.

How will UC ensure a fair process for both the complainant and the respondent?

The new model provides equal opportunities for the complainant and respondent to comment during the investigation and adjudication process and to offer witnesses and evidence. Both students also have an equal right to appeal a decision or sanction, and to participate during the appeal process.

Because these processes can be complex, all UC campuses provide resources to help both student complainants and respondents understand their rights and the investigation and adjudication process. Complainants can contact their confidential campus CARE Advocate Office. Respondents can contact their campus Respondent Services Coordinator. Both resources also provide referrals to other services, such as counseling and academic support. Both students may be accompanied by a support person and an advisor of their choice, including an attorney, at any stage of the process.

How will I know whats happening during the investigation and adjudication process?

UC aims to provide clear, timely and consistent communication. The appropriate campus personnel will keep the complainant and respondent informed throughout the process. They will each receive a letter notifying them when an investigation begins. At the end of the investigation, they will each be notified of the investigation’s factual findings and recommendations about policy violations, and given a copy of the report. Both students also will receive the decision about whether the charges were substantiated, any sanctions imposed and options to appeal. If either student chooses to appeal, both students can participate in the appeal and will be notified of the results of the appeal.

The complainant can contact the CARE Advocate Office and the respondent can contact the Respondent Services Coordinator at any time for help in determining the status of the complaint.

These new investigation and adjudication standards only apply to students. What is the process if the accused is a faculty or staff member?

UC on July 1, 2017, announced new systemwide procedures for investigating, adjudicating and determining sanctions in sexual harassment and sexual violence cases that involve faculty and staff. These new procedures, which campuses will locally implement by no later than Sept. 1, 2017, will increase consistency and transparency across the UC system, and aim to ensure a timely and appropriate resolution to these cases. Learn more about the new procedures or see related FAQs.

How did UC develop these standards?

The Presidents Task Force on Preventing and Responding to Sexual Violence and Sexual Assault formed a working group, comprised of Title IX officers, Student Conduct Officers, Vice Chancellors of Student Affairs, students, ombuds, CARE advocates, campus police, compliance, legal counsel, and Regents that developed the model and this systemwide framework.

In addition to having students on the working group, the committee also consulted with a wide range of UC students — both undergraduate and graduate students — throughout the process. The workgroup also reviewed procedures in place at other universities around the country, and consulted with UC law professors as well as nationally recognized experts in sexual violence and higher education law.

How will UC ensure consistency across the system?

Training has been occurring throughout the year on conducting investigations and hearings consistent with trauma-informed practices. In the time leading up to the January 2016 implementation, the university has trained campus stakeholders, including Title IX officers, Offices of Student Conduct, investigators, and individuals responsible for hearing appeals on the new systemwide standards, so these new procedures are implemented consistently across all campuses. These employees will also receive ongoing training.

Does UC plan to review the model’s effectiveness after it is implemented?

Yes. UC will be reviewing and evaluating the model, with input from students, Title IX officers, Student Conduct offices and other stakeholders, to ensure it effectively addresses reports of sexual violence and sexual harassment. In addition, as legal requirements change or are updated, the university will revisit its policies and programs to ensure compliance.

Where can I find UC’s policy on Sexual Harassment and Sexual Violence?

You can find UC’s policies and codes of conduct on the university’s systemwide Sexual Violence Prevention and Response website: http://sexualviolence.universityofcalifornia.edu/policies/index.html

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Faculty and Staff Investigation/Adjudication Model and Sanctions

 

How do the systemwide investigation and adjudication models for faculty and staff work?

The models lay out the processes by which the university responds to allegations of sexual violence orsexual harassment involving faculty and non-faculty employees.

Under the UC Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment Policy (SVSH Policy), the campus Title IX office conducts a fair, thorough and impartial investigation to determine if the SVSH Policy was violated. Both the person who filed the complaint (complainant) and the person responding to allegations (respondent) are notified of the investigation’s findings and have the opportunity to submit a response.

If the investigation determines that the respondent violated the SVSH Policy, the process for resolution, including discipline, is as follows:

For faculty: The chancellor or his/her designee will consult with the location’s Peer Review Committee to advise on an appropriate resolution, including any disciplinary action. The Peer Review Committee helps ensure that resolutions in these cases are consistent, that appropriate action is taken to prevent and correct behavior that violates university policy, and that any discipline matches the seriousness of the violation. After consulting with the Peer Review Committee, the chancellor or his/her designee makes a determination on how to proceed, which may include filing a notice of charges with proposed sanction with the Academic Senate Privilege and Tenure Committee. In all cases, both the complainant and respondent are notified of the terms of the resolution, including any discipline.

You can read the faculty model, which includes a flowchart, here.

For staff: The respondent’s supervisor will propose disciplinary or other action to the chancellor's designee(s). The chancellor’s designee will review for approval the proposed disciplinary action. The designee helps ensure that resolutions in these cases are consistent, that appropriate action is taken to prevent and correct behavior that violates university policy, and that any discipline matches the seriousness of the violation. Upon approval by the chancellor’s designee, the respondent's supervisor will implement the action, including any discipline. Both the complainant and respondent are notified of the action, including any discipline.

You can read the staff model, which includes a flowchart, here.

Why is the faculty model different from the staff model?

The investigation procedures for faculty and staff are the same, but the process for deciding discipline differs.

Faculty are subject to the Faculty Code of Conduct, and the UC model of shared governance gives faculty a role in advising the administration regarding appropriate discipline for other faculty members.  There is no equivalent in the staff context, and disciplinary decisions have generally been made by the respondent’s supervisor. 

Although the models differ between faculty and staff, both models set forth a fair and thorough process to promptly investigate and resolve reports of sexual violence and sexual harassment. Both models also provide for a deliberative disciplinary process to ensure that resolutions are consistent, that appropriate action is taken to prevent and correct behavior that violates university policy, and that any discipline matches the seriousness of the offenses. In both models, the chancellor or his/her designee(s) has a key role in determining what the disciplinary decision will be.

Both the faculty and staff models were developed after extensive consultation. The faculty model incorporates recommendations the president accepted from the Joint Committee of the Administration and Academic Senate, and the staff model incorporates recommendations the president accepted from the Committee on Sexual Violence Sexual Harassment Disciplinary Process for UC Personnel other than Faculty. Both committees had diverse membership, and solicited input and participation from a broad group of stakeholders. The frameworks are intended to address concerns raised by students, as well as by faculty and staff.

How long does the investigation and adjudication process take?

The Title IX office aims to complete its investigation within 60 business days. In cases where an investigation has found a violation of the SVSH Policy, the university will make its subsequent decision regarding discipline within 40 business days. The Title IX officer may grant an extension for good cause on investigations, and the chancellor may grant an extension for good cause in the disciplinary process. In both cases, written notice of an extension must be given to the complainant and respondent, stating the reason for the extension and the new timeline.

Will my name be kept confidential if I am a complainant or a respondent in an investigation?

Generally, the complainant and respondent will be notified of each other’s identity, in order to conduct a fair investigation. The university will make every effort to protect the privacy of both the complainant and the respondent to the extent permitted by law and UC policy.

How will UC ensure a fair process for both the complainant and the respondent?

Both the complainant and respondent will have equal opportunities to meet with the investigator, submit information and identify witnesses who may have relevant information during the investigation. Once the investigation is completed, both individuals will have the opportunity to respond to the investigation’s findings and express what outcome, including any sanction, they would like to see. The decision on discipline is generally made by the chancellor or his/her designee(s).

If I have filed a complaint, will I be kept informed of the investigation’s findings and any decisions on sanctions?

Yes. The Title IX Office will inform you of the outcome of the investigation. If the investigation finds a violation of the university’s SVSH Policy, you will also be notified about how the matter is resolved, including any disciplinary action taken.

Do I get a say in what discipline should be given?

Both the complainant and the respondent have the opportunity to respond to the investigation’s findings and express what outcome, including sanction, they wish to see.  The decision on discipline is generally made by the chancellor or the person(s) designated by the chancellor.

If I need support or services during the investigation and adjudication process, who can I ask?

UC provides resources to help both complainants and respondents understand the UC’s investigation and adjudication process and get support as needed. Complainants can contact the confidential campus CARE Advocate Office. Respondents can contact their campus Respondent Services Coordinator.

How will UC ensure these new models are working well?

UC’s Systemwide Title IX Office is providing training and guidance to those on the campuses implementing the models to ensure consistency. UC will evaluate and assess these models over time to ensure they are effective.

Where can I find UC’s policy on Sexual Harassment and Sexual Violence?

You can find UC’s policies and codes of conduct on the university’s systemwide Sexual Violence Prevention and Response website: http://sexualviolence.universityofcalifornia.edu/policies/index.html.

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