Education

Incoming UC freshmen to undergo revamped sexual assault prevention training

File photo: The University of California announced a makeover of its sexual assault and sexual violence prevention program that will standardize procedures across its 10 campuses.
File photo: The University of California announced a makeover of its sexual assault and sexual violence prevention program that will standardize procedures across its 10 campuses.
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The University of California announced Thursday a makeover of its mandatory training for students aimed at preventing sexual assaults on campus as well as a revision in the way it handles complaints that gives support for the accused. 

All 10 campuses will now deliver a consistent student training program that’s been revamped to follow best practices in the field of sexual assault prevention, the university said. 

Since 2014, sexual violence training has been required for UC students. Registration was put on hold for those who failed to comply.

Starting this fall, UC will require incoming students to participate in a systemwide education and training program within six weeks of class. 

Beginning in fall 2016, incoming freshmen will undergo training before they even arrive on campus. The training will include a few hours of in-person guidance. 

The announcement follows a recent ruling in a case out of UC San Diego that’s put pressure on universities to fix their sexual assault policies. 

In that decision, a judge found the school failed to provide a fair trial for a student accused of sexual misconduct.

University spokeswoman Dianne Klein said the court case was unrelated to Thursday's announcement. Rather, she said, the program changes stem from recommendations of UC President Janet Napolitano's task force on preventing sexual assault and sexual violence.

Klein described this latest move as an effort to gain consistency across campuses. She said it's been a huge effort, one that is still evolving.

“We are ahead of the game as far as other universities,” she said.  

In the UC San Diego case, a male student fought back after the university investigated a sexual assault complaint and determined that he should be suspended, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Superior Court Judge Joel Pressman then ruled that the student was unfairly prevented from cross-examining his accuser and there was not enough evidence to show that the sexual activity occurred without the alleged victim's consent.

The judge set aside the student's suspension. UC officials are still deciding whether to appeal. 

As part of the UC sexual assault prevention program revamp, investigations and student adjudication procedures have been standardized, the university said.

In an effort to provide “fair support,” each campus will have a coordinator by September to help accused students understand both their rights and the university's process in investigating and hearing a complaint. 

The president's task force felt both parties in a complaint should have “access to a fair process,” the university said in its announcement.

The University of California campuses at Berkeley, Davis, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Santa Cruz are all subjects of ongoing sexual violence investigations by the federal Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights. 

They are among 12 California universities under scrutiny after alleged victims of sexual assault complained that campuses ignored or mishandled their cases.