FAQs - What has changed with the new adjudication/investigation policy?

What happened with the adjudication and investigation procedures?
In January 2016, the University of California Office of the President’s Task Force on Preventing and Responding to Sexual Violence and Sexual Assault issued new standards for adjudicating reports of sexual violence and sexual harassment.
 
All UC campuses - including UC Berkeley - are adopting system-wide standards for investigating and resolving complaints of sexual violence and sexual harassment.
 
What about people already involved in an investigation? What does this mean for them?
For those investigations that were initiated prior to January 1, 2016, the previous policy that was in place will apply to the adjudication process.
More information can be found about that policy here. There is also a flowchart for that policy, here.
 
For those investigations that were initiated January 1, 2016 and afterwards, the new UC systemwide policy will apply. More information can be found about that policy here, and additional FAQs can be found here.
 
What are the elements that have changed with this new policy?
There are some key stages in the process which have changed in this new policy. Please note the following:
 
Trauma-informed training: In the new policy, all staff involved in the investigation and adjudication of these cases in any way must have trauma-informed training. This includes understanding the short and long-term effects of crisis and trauma. The trauma-informed approach is based on scientific evidence that has established that an individual who is subjected to a traumatic situation experiences a change in brain function that can materially affect the person’s response to the situation and how memories of the event may be stored and recalled. A trauma-informed approach also takes into account the fact that a complainant in a sexual violence case may have suffered a traumatic incident that may impact their participation during an investigation.
 
More information may be found here.
 
Contact letters with complainant and respondent: In the new policy, if an investigation will be conducted, the Office for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination (OPHD) and the Center for Student Conduct (CSC) will jointly send written notice of the allegations to the complainant and respondent.  
 
Upon completion of the Title IX Investigation, OPHD and CSC will jointly send to the complainant and the respondent (a) written notice of the investigation findings and the investigator’s recommended determinations, and (b) will provide a copy of the investigation report. The investigation report may be redacted if necessary to protect student privacy rights.
 
In the previous policy, OPHD would send the written notice of the investigation findings to all parties.
 
Center for Student Conduct (CSC) determinations: In the new policy, CSC will determine whether the charges have been substantiated and if policies have been violated. CSC will, based on the determined violations, assess the disciplinary sanctions and inform the complainant and respondent of the outcome within ten (10) business days of the notice of findings.
 
In the previous policy, OPHD would determine if there were violations of the UC Policy on Sexual Harassment and Sexual Violence, and then share their determination with CSC. CSC would then determine if there might also be violations of the Student Code of Conduct, and if there were, CSC would charge the student with violating the Code.
 
UC sanction guidelines: In the new policy, if CSC determines that disciplinary sanctions are appropriate, the sanctions will be determined in accordance with the sanctioning guidelines that are included as an Appendix to these procedures (click here to view).

  1. Disciplinary sanctions for sexual assault, domestic/dating violence, or stalking in which one or more of the following factors are present will result in a minimum sanction of Suspension for at least two years, up to dismissal:
    • force, violence, menace, or duress; 

    • deliberately causing a person to become incapacitated or 
deliberately taking advantage of a person’s incapacitation; or 

    • recording, photographing, transmitting, viewing, or distributing 
intimate or sexual images without consent. 

  2. Disciplinary sanctions for sexual assault involving penetration, 
domestic/dating violence, or stalking will, absent exceptional circumstances, result in a minimum sanction of Suspension for two years, up to dismissal.
  3. Disciplinary sanctions for other sexual contact in violation of policy will, absent exceptional circumstances, result in a minimum sanction of suspension for one year.

For reference, the previous policy, and a flowchart of the previous process, may be found here and here.
 
Appeal process: In the new policy, the complainant and respondent may contest the decision and/or the sanctions stated in the Case Outcome Letter by submitting an appeal. The appeal should identify the reason(s) why the complainant or respondent is challenging the outcome under one or more of the following grounds:

  1. There was procedural error in the process that materially affected the outcome, such as the investigation was not fair, thorough or impartial; 

  2. The decision was unreasonable based on the evidence; 

  3. There is new, material information that was unknown and/or unavailable at the time the decision was made that should affect the outcome; 

  4. The disciplinary sanctions were disproportionate to the findings; 


The appeal will be decided at a hearing by the Appeal Officer, who may be a University staff person or an academic appointee, or a non-University official, such as an administrative law judge or experienced investigator. 


For reference, the previous policy, and a flowchart of the previous process, may be found here and here.
 
Final appeal: In the new policy, following the appeal officer's decision, students involved in the review have an opportunity to appeal the appeal officer's decision to the Chancellor’s designee. The Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs (VCSA) will serve as the primary designee with the Vice Chancellor for Equity and Inclusion (VCEI) serving as a secondary designee.
 
For reference, the previous policy, and a flowchart of the previous process, may be found here and here.

 


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