University of California President Janet Napolitano issued the following statement today (Sept. 22) following the decision by the Department of Education to rescind the 2011 Dear Colleague letter and the 2014 Q&A on Sexual Violence, and issue a new Q&A on Campus Sexual Misconduct. The federal changes will likely impact how schools handle sexual violence cases under Title IX policies.
I am deeply worried by the Department of Education announcement today that will in effect weaken sexual violence protections, prompt confusion among campuses about how best to respond to reports of sexual violence and sexual harassment, and unravel the progress that so many schools have made in ensuring fair, timely procedures for both survivors and the accused.
I want to stress, however, that UC’s pledge to protect our students and employees from sexual violence and sexual harassment remains unchanged. In compliance with state and federal regulations, UC policies remain in effect to provide procedural protections that reflect our firm commitment to a safe learning and working environment on all our campuses.
We have been — and will continue to be — committed to fairly investigating and resolving complaints of sexual violence. It is critical that campuses continue to prioritize the safety of students and their right to an equal education.