Response to new federal Title IX regulations

To: UC Santa Cruz Community

From: Chancellor Cynthia Larive and Interim Associate Vice Chancellor of Equity and Equal Protection Isabel Dees

Dear Campus Community,

The U.S. Department of Education on Wednesday issued long-anticipated Title IX rules mandating how schools nationwide respond to complaints of sexual harassment. Schools, including UC Santa Cruz, have been given until Aug.14 to comply with these new regulations.

Both UC Santa Cruz and the UC system as a whole decry these poorly-conceived changes. We pledge to continue our work to create a campus free of sexual harassment and violence through education, prevention, and processes that are fair and compassionate to all parties. 

Given the time frame for implementation, the systemwide Title IX Office and Student Affairs will establish a working group with diverse, systemwide representation to help us identify ways to comply with the rules while staying true to our values. We look forward to supporting these efforts. To that end, the UCSC Title IX Office will co-host a series of community sessions with Campus Advocacy, Resources, and Education (CARE); Respondent Support Services; Dean of Students Office; CHES; Academic Personnel Office; Staff HR; and other community partners to hear community concerns and gather information to help inform local and systemwide implementation of these new regulations. Please RSVP to receive information about the UCSC Community Sessions: Title IX Regulations.

We are grateful for the courage of people who step forward to report their experiences and those who chose to participate in the investigation and adjudication process. Our campuses are safer because of their bravery. We want to stress that current investigations will not be affected by these new regulations, which do not go into effect until August 14.

When the department first proposed updated regulations in 2018, the University of California expressed serious concerns about key aspects of the federal rules, as did students, survivors, advocates, Title IX professionals, and others across the nation. The proposed regulations garnered an unprecedented number of public comments including those gathered from UCSC community members at on-campus events organized by our students.

We were disappointed to see that, despite the unprecedented number of comments, the Department of Education largely disregarded the input it received, putting forth regulations mostly unchanged from the 2018 version. It is particularly disheartening that the federal government is seeking to impose these new rules, and enforcing a tight timeline for compliance, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, when students, staff, and faculty are dealing with upheavals to their daily lives and when schools have a very limited ability to meet in-person with community members to discuss these changes. President Janet Napolitano issued this statement regarding the U.S. Department of Education’s announcement of final Title IX rules.

Suzanne Taylor, UC’s Systemwide Title IX Officer, said UC will support legal challenges to the rules, which may stop or delay their implementation. “UC’s imperative now is to respond to the rules thoughtfully and deliberately, with the security and well-being of our students and the broader community as our highest priorities.”  

Sexual misconduct has no place at UCSC or any UC campus. We remain committed to stewarding policy implementation that, in addition to being compliant, is consistent with our community values and the educational mission of the UC; that honors the risk and trust community members show every time they speak out or engage in our Title IX process; and centers the lived experiences of our students, staff, and faculty. We will continue to strive to do the least harm, to hold all community members in esteem, to hold each other accountable, to demonstrate commitment to due process, and to ensure fundamental fairness in our process. 

We recognize the importance of campus partners like CARE; Respondent Support Services; UCSC Police; and creative Faculty Senate initiatives like Beyond Compliance to create learning and working environments that are inclusive and welcoming to all. These partnerships and collaborations are critical to realizing our vision for a UC community free from sexual harassment and violence. That begins with evidence-based primary prevention efforts including building a culture of consent, preventing incidents before they occur, and intervening early to minimize harm, in addition to formal investigation processes that may result in measures to remedy harm. 

We encourage anyone in our community who has been the victim of sexual violence or sexual harassment to reach out to connect with the confidential Campus Advocacy Resource and Education office. CARE provides confidential support for students, staff and faculty. The office can help you understand your rights and options when making a formal complaint, as well support healing outside of institutional processes. To make a report, request supportive or safety measures or request information about your options, connect with our Title IX Office.