Campus, UC respond to Trump administration’s Title IX changes

Both UC Berkeley and the University of California responded swiftly today (Sept. 7) to the announcement of changes planned by the Trump administration in the handling of sexual harassment and sexual violence cases under Title IX. Both messages follow.

The first was sent to the campus by UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ and Sharon Inkelas, special faculty adviser to the chancellor on sexual violence/sexual harassment:

Dear students, faculty, and staff,

The U.S. Secretary of Education today announced the intention to move away from the current Department of Education guidelines for how colleges and universities handle sexual harassment and sexual violence cases under the federal Title IX policy. Federal officials plan to launch a formal notice and comment process in preparation for revising their approach to Title IX enforcement.

UC Berkeley, like the Office of the President of the University of California, stands firmly in support of the profoundly important policies enacted in recent years that seek to ensure a more efficient and fair system for all parties in cases of sexual harassment and sexual violence. We want to assure you that the campus remains firmly committed to that ideal.

The campus also remains strongly committed to changing norms and culture to prevent violence and harassment from occurring in the first place and strengthening support for survivors. We will continue to build on this work and the path that has been created by many student leaders and activists, campus practitioners and administrators and the many caring and committed members of our community.

It is important to note that Title IX still remains in effect, as do UC policies, state laws and other federal regulations that provide procedural protections and prohibit sexual harassment and sexual violence, including sexual assault, dating/domestic violence and stalking. Campus community members and visitors can continue to turn to the Title IX Officer for information about their rights and options for addressing sexual misconduct, the PATH to Care Center for confidential survivor advocacy and resources, and to our central campus resources website for more information.

Every member of our university’s leadership team has an unwavering commitment to equality and equity across the rich diversity of genders, sexual identities, religions, abilities, ethnicities and identities in our community. Those ideals underlie the original Title IX legislation. We have every intention of vigorously continuing our efforts to support, sustain and expand adherence to those values on this campus.

Sincerely,

Carol Christ, Chancellor

Sharon Inkelas, Special Faculty Adviser to the Chancellor on Sexual Violence/Sexual Harassment

University of California President Janet Napolitano issued the following statement today (Sept. 7) following an announcement by U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos that appears to roll back guidance by the Office of Civil Rights. The federal changes will impact how schools handle sexual violence cases under the Title IX policy.

Changes to the Title IX policy announced today signal that the Trump administration aims to undo six years’ worth of federal enforcement designed to strengthen sexual violence protections on college campuses. This is extremely troubling.

Beginning with its 2011 guidance known as the Dear Colleague letter, the Education Department instructed schools across the country to keep their students free from sexual violence and establish procedures for promptly and fairly investigating and resolving sexual violence complaints. Today’s move will prompt fears of reduced support for survivors of sexual violence, and raise questions about how schools prevent and respond to reports of sexual violence and sexual harassment.

It is important to underscore that state law and federal regulations remain in effect to provide procedural protections and prohibit sexual assault and other forms of sexual violence. The University of California remains firmly committed to protecting its students and staff from sexual violence and sexual harassment, while ensuring a fair process for all involved.

In recent years, UC has taken decisive steps to prevent sexual violence and sexual harassment and more effectively respond when it occurs. We have expanded prevention education requirements, created a systemwide Title IX office and developed new policies and procedures that protect the rights of all students and employees. Every campus has increased resources in this area and established a confidential CARE advocacy office that supports survivors of sexual violence.

Even in the midst of unwelcome change and uncertainty, the university’s commitment to a learning environment free of sexual violence and sexual harassment will not waver. UC will continue its work to foster a culture of safety and security on all its campuses.