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Chancellor Dirks’ spring semester update on efforts to combat sexual violence on campus

Dear Campus Community,

As we begin the spring 2016 semester, I want to update you on the efforts UC Berkeley is making to prevent sexual violence, sexual assault, and sexual harassment on our campus. Our newest efforts in this area include revised education requirements for members of the campus, changes to the adjudication process, and additional resources for survivors.

To begin, for the second consecutive year, all incoming undergraduate students are required to complete in-person and online sexual assault prevention education and training, ensuring all students are on the same page when it comes to our campus policies. This year we have also extended the requirement to incoming graduate students. I believe these educational sessions are a critical part of understanding our role in ending violence, and as a result the incoming students who miss out will be unable to register for classes effective Fall 2016 and subsequent semesters. These educational requirements are outlined in more detail on the survivor support web site.

Starting this past month, new employees began to be required to receive training within the first six weeks of hire, and this month will mark the launch of a new faculty education and training plan. Faculty and supervisors will also receive training on their legal obligations to report sexual violence. More information on these trainings and requirements will be shared with faculty and supervisors soon.

Students should also be aware that there is a revised University of California systemwide Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment policy. Notably, the policy now requires every employee to notify the Title IX office/Office for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination when they receive information from a student about an alleged violation. This includes teaching assistants (GSIs), RAs, and other student employees. Moreover, all faculty and supervisors/managers must notify the Title IX office/OPHD when they receive information of alleged sexual misconduct from other faculty or staff. You may read more about this policy here.

Additionally, this month, the University of California Office of the President’s Task Force on Preventing and Responding to Sexual Violence and Sexual Assault issued a new and revamped set of standards for adjudicating reports of sexual violence and sexual harassment. All UC campuses – including Berkeley – are adopting system-wide standards for investigating and resolving complaints of sexual violence and sexual harassment. We encourage you to learn more about what these new policies mean for all students, and what these significant changes mean for the reporting process.

I’m pleased to share several updates about our Confidential Care Advocate’s office. Last January I announced the hiring of Director of Sexual Assault Prevention & Student Advocacy Mari Knuth-Bouracee, who leads the office in helping survivors access the resources they need and explaining reporting options. In the last several months, her team has expanded to include Confidential Advocates Tiffany Hsiang, MSW, and Kiara Lee, MSW, as well as the Assistant Director of Sexual Violence Prevention, Virginia Duplessis (hired in partnership between the Division of Student Affairs and University Health Services), who will focus on developing and implementing a comprehensive education plan to reduce sexual violence.

Finally, some of the many other efforts from across campus this past semester included a push to streamline information regarding sexual violence and sexual assault education on various campus websites; the training of members of the OPHD and University of California Police Department on trauma-informed interview skills; the addition of an additional complaint resolution officer position to OPHD; and continued work by the ASUC Student Union’s LEAD Center and Cal Greek community to address this issue through sexual violence prevention trainings.

I’m encouraged to see efforts begun in recent years gaining traction across campus, and more students becoming aware of this critical issue and how to combat it. There is work to accomplish in addressing campus sexual violence and harassment, and I’m eager to hear feedback from the campus community on what is working well, and what areas we can improve upon. Please feel free to send your thoughts to my office by emailing Working together, we can build a campus culture that fully supports consent and respect, and holds those who violate our policies accountable.


Nicholas Dirks