University of California unveils proposal for new sexual assault policies

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The University of California has outlined a proposal for a univerity-wide sexual assault policy that would require trained sexual assault investigators and mandatory training for students, faculty and staff.

U.C. President Janet Napolitano said the university system wants to become the national leader in preventing and combating sexual violence and sexual assault.

The plan would also create an advocate’s office - something California Democrat Barbara Boxer had urged California universities to do. She said assault victims who come forward need help in navigating the legal and administrative process, "and just having a friend to stand with her or him."

While all 10 campuses have systems already in place to "educate, prevent and respond to sexual violence," the proposal said it's meant to address "gaps and inconsistencies" in them. It does not say how much it would cost. 

The policy will  be rolled out in phases over the next year, starting in January with the creation of a confidential advocacy office, a website, and a response team model that will be used at all campuses. The task force that drew up the recommendations will present a second report to implement the other parts of the plan, though there's no word when that will happen.

Boxer and Congresswoman Susan Davis (D-San Diego) introduced a measure this summer requiring any college taking federal dollars to designate a campus advocate for both prevention and response to sexual assault. Both the House and Senate measures await committee hearings.

Boxer wrote to Napolitano and the head of all other California colleges last month, urging them to voluntarily create an advocate’s office in the meantime.

The Boxer/Davis bill does not include funding.

A March "campus climate" survey by the UC found  7% of Berkeley undergraduates experienced "unwanted sexual contact in the past five years."

Last month, the U.S. Department of Education confirmed it was investigating how UCLA handles sexual misconduct cases. Seventy five other universities or colleges are under federal investigation for their sexual assault policies and practices as possible violations of Title IX, which outlaws sexual discrimination in education.