Sexual harassment and sexual violence at UC Santa Cruz

To: UCSC Community

From: Chancellor George Blumenthal

In light of recent attention on sexual assault and sexual harassment nationally, I want to be clear about my own expectations: There is no place within our campus community for those who commit acts of sexual violence or sexual harassment.

As you read last week, Campus Provost/Executive Vice Chancellor Alison Galloway is convening a town hall May 10 to foster dialogue among students, staff, and faculty. She has also issued a forceful call for all faculty to go beyond compliance—the absence of bad conduct—to make a positive contribution to each student and colleague. I strongly support both efforts.

Sexual harassment encompasses sexual violence, defined as sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking. Public awareness and understanding are growing, making it easier for people to come forward.

Tracey Tsugawa, our Title IX officer, is seeing a dramatic increase in reports of all forms of sexual harassment. Last year, her office received 181 reports; that's up from 85 reports the previous year. Already this year, the office has received 162 reports. I am heartened that victim/survivors are accessing resources and getting the support they need.

The campus remains committed to increasing awareness. April is national Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and you'll see posters promoting the second phase of our awareness campaign, "My Body, My Rules: Ask First."

UC Santa Cruz is also part of a systemwide effort led by UC President Janet Napolitano; she convened a UC task force on sexual violence and sexual assault in July 2014. As part of that, I am serving on a joint committee of UC representatives that reviewed our disciplinary procedures for faculty; our recommendations will go to President Napolitano shortly.

Being sexually harassed is a profound violation that can have devastating immediate—and potentially life-long—consequences.

On our campus, the majority of reports involving sexual harassment and sexual violence involve student-on-student interactions, and I want to be clear that I expect faculty to take appropriate steps to protect the safety and wellbeing of anyone they believe may have been mistreated. That includes sharing what they know with our Title IX Office, which oversees all sex discrimination on campus, including sexual harassment and sexual violence.

Some faculty and students have objected to a new UC policy that took effect in January, requiring professors to notify the Title IX Office if students indicate they have experienced sexual harassment or sexual violence. This policy has been in place on our campus since 1993. Although I understand faculty concerns, I support this policy.

Twice in my career I have had students initiate conversations about being the target of sexual harassment. Each time I explained at the outset that I was obligated to report anything I heard that seemed to meet the threshold of sexual harassment and asked if they wanted to continue. Both times, the students chose to continue the conversation; both times I offered counsel and shared the information with our Title IX officer, who reached out to the students.

The policy requiring professors to notify the Title IX Office helps ensure that students in crisis can access the full scope of help that is available, including academic accommodations, confidential counseling, housing changes, issuance of no-contact directives, and off-campus resources. This policy also helps our Title IX staff identify potential serial perpetrators.

I want UC Santa Cruz to model the way forward—in prevention, response, and in fundamentally changing our culture to rid the campus of these behaviors. Please join this critical campus conversation, speak up, and take action. We must make individual and collective commitments to end sexual harassment and sexual violence.