Proposed Revisions to Sexual Assault Policy

Changes made to adapt to recent “Yes Means Yes” Legislation and new UC Policies. 

uc_color_logoUCSD Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla shared a proposed campus “Policy for Reporting and Responding to Sex Offenses” in an email to university affiliates on Oct. 15. If the new policy proposal is implemented, it would bring UCSD’s protocol for handling sexual violence cases to par with the University of California’s systemwide Sexual Harassment and Sexual Violence Policy.

Key additions to the policy include definitions of sexual harassment and sexual violence. Sexual harassment is defined in the policy as “unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors and other verbal, nonverbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature.” Also included is the definition for sexual violence:“Physical, sexual acts engaged without the consent of the other person or when the other person is unable to consent to the activity.”

The proposed policy additionally clarifies the different aspects of consent. It explains that consent is informed, meaning that it is an “affirmative, unambiguous and conscious decision by each participant to engage in mutually agreed-upon sexual activity.” It then adds that consent is voluntary and is “positive cooperation in the act or expression of intent to engage in the act.”

The proposed new policy follows the “Yes means Yes” law that was signed by California Gov. Jerry Brown in late September of this year. The law requires colleges and universities to adopt protocols which clearly state, without any ambiguity, that participants willingly consented to sex by saying yes.

It also emphasizes that consent is revocable, which is to say that “consent must be ongoing throughout a sexual encounter” and that once it is withdrawn, “the sexual activity must stop immediately.” The proposed policy also borrowed from the old policy in that consent cannot be given when a person is incapacitated or intoxicated.

Another addition to the policy is the prohibition of “harassment that is not sexual in nature but is based on gender, gender identity, gender expression, sex- or gender-stereotyping or sexual orientation” and anything that “denies or limits a person’s ability to participate in or benefit from University educational programs, employment or services.”

The proposed new policy also says that the changes “shall be disseminated widely to the University community through publications, websites, new employee orientations, student orientations and other appropriate channels of communication.”

Additionally, the policy obligates each of those locations to “make preventive educational materials available to all members of the University community” and “designate University employees responsible for reporting sexual harassment and sexual violence and make available prevention training to designated employees.”

With regards to reporting acts of sexual harassment or sexual violence, the policy affirms that “any member of the University community may report conduct that may constitute sexual harassment or sexual violence.” It then requires that the “supervisors, managers and other designated employees are responsible for promptly forwarding such reports” to the designated local official.

The policy also warns that any member of the University community who is found to have engaged in sexual harassment or sexual violence is “subject to disciplinary action including dismissal in accordance with the applicable University disciplinary procedure or other University policy.”

Finally, it also includes a section recognizing the importance of the right to free speech and academic freedom and indicates its commitment to protecting both. However, the policy also clarifies that those rights are not limitless and “do not protect speech or expressive conduct that violates federal or state anti-discrimination laws.”

Khosla said in the email that the University is inviting comments on the proposed policy as part of a formal review. The Office of Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination will accept comments or questions until Nov. 16.

Neither the Sexual Assault and Violence Prevention Resource Center nor University communications specialist Christine Clark could be reached by press time for comment.