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Frequently Asked Questions

FAQs: Understanding sexual violence and sexual assault

FAQs: Get Help

FAQs: CARE Advocates

FAQs: Education & Training

FAQs: Filing a Report

FAQs: If You’ve Been Accused

FAQs: SVSA Investigation/Adjudication Model and Sanctions

FAQs: Understanding sexual violence and sexual assault

Q: What is the difference between sexual violence, sexual assault and sexual harassment?

Sexual Violence means physical sexual acts without the consent of the other person or when the other person is unable to give consent. Sexual violence includes sexual assault, rape, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking. Refer to the Glossary for the definitions of these terms.

Sexual Assault occurs when physical, sexual activity is engaged in without the consent of the other person, or when the other person is unable to consent to the activity. The activity or conduct may include physical force, violence, threat, intimidation, ignoring the objections of the other person, causing the other person’s intoxication or incapacitation (through the use of drugs or alcohol) or taking advantage of the other person’s intoxication (including voluntary intoxication).

Sexual Harassment includes behavior such as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other conduct of a sexual nature. It is conduct that affects a person’s employment or education or interferes with a person’s work or educational performance or creates an environment that a reasonable person would find intimidating, hostile or offensive.

For more information about these and other frequently used terms, visit our Glossary page.

Q: What constitutes consent?

Consent is an affirmative, unambiguous and conscious decision by each participant to mutually agreed-upon sexual activity. Consent is voluntary and must be given without coercion, force, threats or intimidation.

Consent is revocable. Consent to some form of sexual activity does not imply consent to other forms of sexual activity. Consent on one occasion is not consent to engage in sexual activity on another occasion. A current or previous dating or sexual relationship, by itself, is not sufficient to constitute consent. Even in the context of a relationship, there must be mutual consent to engage in sexual activity. Consent must be ongoing throughout a sexual encounter and can be revoked any time. Once consent is withdrawn, the sexual activity must stop immediately.

Consent cannot be given when someone is incapacitated, unconscious, coming in and out of consciousness, or if that person’s understanding of the act is affected by a physical or mental impairment.

Q: What are my responsibilities as a member of the UC community?

UC expects every member of the university community to be respectful of others and to help foster a safe environment free of harassment, exploitation and intimidation. Everyone at UC — students, faculty, academic appointees and staff — has a responsibility to know and comply with UC’s Policy on Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment, codes of conduct and relevant state laws. UC also expects everyone to take the education and training courses offered by the university. Faculty, other academic appointees and staff are required to take sexual harassment prevention training as required. Managers, supervisors and certain employees, such as athletic coaches, faculty advisors, teaching assistants and resident advisors, are required to promptly forward reports of sexual violence and sexual harassment to the Title IX Officer.

Q: Does UC offer education and training for students, faculty, academic appointees and staff on sexual violence issues?

Yes. Every UC location provides education and training to help all members of the campus community better understand sexual violence and how to prevent it. Starting in fall 2014, UC campuses offered systemwide sexual violence training to all incoming students. To find out how to access the education and training at your campus, visit our Education and Training webpage.

Starting July 2015, UC will begin implementing a comprehensive systemwide sexual violence prevention and intervention training and education plan for all members of the UC community — students, staff, faculty and other academic appointees. This plan will augment existing training.


FAQs: Get Help

Q: I’ve experienced sexual violence. Where can I go for help?

If you are in immediate danger or need immediate medical attention, call 911.

If you are not in immediate danger:

  • If you are a student, your campus CARE advocate is a valuable resource for you. CARE advocates work with student survivors of sexual violence, including sexual assault, dating/domestic violence and stalking, to provide immediate confidential emotional support and assistance. In addition, advocates work with survivors to access campus resources such as psychological counseling, medical care, emergency housing, transportation and academic needs. Advocates can explain your options for filing a formal report with law enforcement or the university — as well as the option not to report. For more information about campus CARE advocates, visit our FAQs on advocates. To reach a campus CARE advocate now, visit our Get Help page. Advocacy services are available 24 hours a day.
  • If you are a faculty member, other academic appointee or a UC Irvine employee, trained professionals on your campus offer confidential counseling and help, and information about where to go if you want to file a report. Faculty members may also contact their Academic Personnel Office regarding their academic rights.
Q: If I talk to the campus CARE advocate or my Employee Assistance Program, will my personal information, such as my name, be kept confidential?

Yes. CARE advocates as well as the Employee Assistance Program staff are confidential resources that are available to help you. Speaking to these resources will not trigger an investigation and personally identifiable information, such as your name, will be kept confidential, consistent with legal requirements.

Q: I just want to talk to someone and I don’t want to file a report or I’m not ready to decide if I want to report yet. Can I still get help?

Yes. Regardless of whether you decide to file a report, the university has many resources available to you, such as counseling and academic support.

If you are an undergraduate or graduate student, your campus CARE advocate can provide immediate confidential support, explain the campus resources available and help you access the ones you want. Here are some examples of resources and services:

  • Emotional support, including crisis intervention, long-term counseling, support groups and other resources on and off campus.
  • Academic support, including changing your academic class schedule and switching course sections.
  • Health care, such as a medical exam and help with other needs at campus health and counseling centers.
  • Housing, such as helping you obtain temporary housing or new housing.
  • Personal safety. You can consult with university police to understand your rights to physical protection, including restraining orders or a safety escort on campus at night. Advocates can help you obtain no-contact orders or temporary or permanent orders of protection.

 

If you are a faculty member, other academic appointee, or a UC Irvine employee, you can talk one-on-one with the trained professionals on your campus who can offer confidential support and help you identify other available resources.

To learn more about options available to you, visit our Get Help page.

Q: What do I do if my friend or colleague has experienced sexual violence?

If you are in immediate danger or need immediate medical attention, call 911.

If there is no immediate danger, let your friend or colleague know university resources are available:

  • If the person is a student, let him or her know that the campus CARE Advocate Office is available for confidential support, as well as to explain medical, academic, legal and reporting options.
  • If your colleague is an employee of the Univeristy, the university has trained professionals on your campus who can provide confidential support, and information about where to go if you want to file a report. Faculty members may also contact the Academic Personel Office regarding their academic rights.

We have tips for how you can help a friend or colleague here.

Q: If I experienced sexual violence off-campus or before I enrolled or started working at UC, can I still get help?

Yes. Confidential support is available to help any UC Irvine student currently enrolled at UC or any UC faculty, academic appointee or staff member, regardless of whether the sexual violence occurred on or off campus.

In addition, we understand that some people may have experienced sexual violence before coming to UC and may be seeking support services. Your campus advocate can talk to you about resources, including connecting you with trained psychological counselors.


FAQs: CARE Advocates

Q: Who are CARE advocates and how can they help me?

CARE advocates work with student survivors of sexual violence, sexual assault, domestic/dating violence and stalking to provide confidential emotional support and assistance. In addition, advocates work with survivors to access campus resources such as psychological counseling, medical care, emergency housing, transportation and academic needs.

If you have experienced sexual violence, advocates can explain your options for filing a formal report with law enforcement or the university — as well as the option not to report. If you choose to file a formal report, the advocate will help you navigate the reporting process and help coordinate services on your behalf with other agencies, including campus and community services and police.

The CARE Advocate Office is student focused at most campuses. At some campuses, the advocate office also provides confidential support to faculty and staff who have experienced sexual violence.

To reach a CARE advocate now, visit our Get Help page. Advocacy services are available 24 hours a day.

Q: Why were these CARE advocate positions created?

The advocate office, CARE: Advocate Office for Sexual and Gender-Based Violence and Sexual Misconduct, was created at every UC campus to provide dedicated, full-time support to survivors of sexual violence, both immediately and over the long term. These dedicated offices ensure that survivors can reach an advocate whose sole responsibility is to support their needs.

The advocate office, which launched systemwide in January 2015, is one of seven recommendations from the President’s Task Force on Preventing and Responding to Sexual Violence and Sexual Assault. The CARE office at UC Irvine has been serving our campus since 2005.

Q: What issues can I talk to a CARE advocate about?

CARE advocates are trained to address sexual violence, sexual assault, stalking, and dating and domestic violence.

Q: Will my personal information, such as my name and what happened, be confidential?

Yes. The CARE advocates are a confidential resource, which means personally identifiable information, such as your name or address, will not be disclosed to the campus or law enforcement without your consent.

Q: Is talking to a CARE advocate the same as filing a formal report?

No. Your CARE advocate can explain your reporting options — including the option not to report — but speaking with the advocate about your options does not constitute filing an official report or complaint with the university. Filing a report is a different step and if you choose to report, the campus advocate can connect you with the appropriate office and support you during the reporting process.

Q: Can I bring a friend with me to speak with a CARE advocate?

Yes. You can bring a family member, friend or colleague with you. The CARE advocate can explain issues related to confidentiality and privilege of information, even when other people are present.

Q: If I experienced sexual violence off-campus or before I enrolled at UC, can I talk to the CARE advocate?

Yes. The CARE advocate is available to help any undergraduate or graduate student currently enrolled at UC, regardless of whether the sexual violence occurred on or off campus. In addition, we understand that some people may have experienced sexual violence in the past and may be seeking support. Your campus advocate can talk to you about resources, including helping you access trained psychological counselors and local support groups.

At some campuses, the advocate office also provides confidential support to faculty and staff who have experienced sexual violence.

Q: If I’m a faculty or staff member, can I talk to the CARE advocate?

Faculty and staff who want help or guidance on handling a student report of sexual violence can contact the campus CARE advocate.

The CARE advocate can also provide referral information to faculty and staff who have experienced sexual violence.

If you are a faculty member, other academic appointee or a UC Irvine employee who has experienced sexual violence or sexual harassment, trained professionals on your campus offer confidential counseling and can also connect you with additional campus resources, such as where to go if you want to file a report. Faculty members may also contact their Academic Personnel Office regarding their academic rights.


FAQs: Education & Training

Q: What is the sexual violence prevention education and training requirement for students, faculty and staff?

Students: Starting fall 2015, all incoming students are required to take the education and training program at their campus within the first six weeks of class. All continuing students are required to take ongoing education and training annually.

To learn more about how to fulfill the education and training requirement at your campus, visit your campus Education and Training webpage:

Faculty and Supervisors: Faculty and Supervisors are required to complete two hours of sexual harassment prevention training every two years, and new faculty and supervisors are required to take training within the first two months of hire. Starting January 2016, a systemwide faculty/supervisor training and education program will be implemented that will revise the content in the current sexual harassment prevention training so that it meets UC’s systemwide curriculum, and that will include additional training for those who work directly with students such as faculty student advisors. Faculty and supervisors will also receive training on their legal obligations to report sexual violence.

Staff and academic appointees who are not supervisors: Staff who are not supervisors will also be required to complete sexual harassment and sexual violence prevention training. Starting December 2015, a systemwide staff training and education program will be implemented that will require new employees to receive training within the first six weeks of hire. All continuing staff will receive training annually. Designated employees who are required to report sexual violence to a Title IX Officer (sexual harassment officer) will receive training on their legal obligations.

Q: What concepts are covered in UC’s education and training program?

The key concepts covered in UC’s systemwide curriculum are:

  • Definitions of different forms of sexual violence
  • Social norms, including the attitudes and beliefs that can normalize violence
  • Bystander intervention
  • Responding to sexual violence using methods that acknowledge the impact of violence and trauma on survivors’ lives
  • Local resources, including confidential support for survivors of sexual violence and appropriate services for those accused of sexual violence
  • Rights and options about reporting sexual violence
Q: Do I have to take education and training every year?

For students, education and training is an annual requirement as part of UC’s efforts to prevent sexual violence on campuses. The systemwide education and training program for faculty and staff is being developed, and is expected to include training every year.

Q: Is the education and training course the same at every UC campus?

The core elements of the curriculum are consistent across the UC system; however, campuses have flexibility in the way they deliver the UC systemwide curriculum. For example, some campuses offer an online course while others provide in-person training.

Q: Do students, faculty and staff take the same education and training course?

The key concepts are the same for all audiences, but the curriculum is tailored to what each audience needs to know. For example, faculty, other supervisors, and staff (including academic personnel who are not supervisors) will receive tailored training on their legal responsibilities to report sexual violence as well as how to help students affected by sexual violence.

Q: Does this new systemwide education and training replace the sexual harassment prevention training that faculty and staff currently are required to take every two years?

The plan is to revise the content in the current sexual harassment prevention training so that it meets UC’s systemwide curriculum. Specifically, the revised content will provide information for faculty and supervisors on how to notify the university if they receive an allegation of sexual violence/assault/harassment. Faculty and academic appointees who work directly with students would be required to take additional training.


FAQs: Filing a Report

Q: I haven’t decided if I want to file a report yet. Can I talk to someone to better understand my options?

Yes. If you are a student, you can speak confidentially to your campus CARE advocate, who can walk you through your options to report — as well as the option not to report — and answer questions you may have. If you are a faculty member, other academic employee or a UC Irvine employee, you can speak confidentially to the trained professionals on your campus.

Talking to a CARE advocate or the Employee Assistance Program staff does not constitute filing an official report with the university.

Q: How do I file a formal report about sexual violence I’ve experienced?

There are a couple different options for filing a formal report. You can file a formal report with your campus through your Title IX Office (Sexual Harassment Office). At UC Irvine, the Title IX officer is located in the Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity. In addition, you can report to the university police if the violence happened on campus. If the violence occurred off campus, you can file a formal report with local law enforcement, such as the city police or county sheriff’s office.

There is also an avenue for anonymous reporting; please keep in mind that with anonymous reporting, the ability to conduct an investigation and for disciplinary action for the accused may be limited, depending on the information that’s given. You can learn more about these options and what to expect in our Reporting section.

Q: If I decide to file a report, will my name and other personal information be kept confidential?

It depends on which reporting option you choose. For example, if you report to your campus Title IX officer, the university will make every effort to protect your privacy to the greatest legal extent possible. However, some UC personnel who are involved in your case will have access to your information, and your name may be shared with the accused if there is an investigation. If you decide to file a police report, you can request your identity remain confidential. If the police report results in criminal charges being filed and a trial, your name will be in court records.

Because confidentiality issues can be complex, it’s best to speak with your campus CARE advocate if you have additional questions about what happens with your personal information if you report.

Q: If I decide to file a report, will there be an investigation?

It will depend on the information that is given. The university or police, depending on which option you choose, will review the facts you provide and other information available to determine what actions should be taken.

Q: Will the university investigation result in disciplinary action for the accused?

It will depend on the investigation’s findings. After the investigation is completed, the university will determine if a disciplinary proceeding should be held.

UC takes reports of sexual violence very seriously. If you decide to report to the university and if an investigation finds that an individual has violated the Sexual Harassment and Sexual Violence Policy or other university policies, the university will hold a disciplinary proceeding during which they will decide what disciplinary action will be taken.

Q: What is UC’s policy on retaliation against someone who files a formal report?

Retaliation against a person who brings a complaint of sexual harassment or sexual violence, or someone who participates in an investigation or resolution of a complaint such as a witness, is strictly prohibited under UC policy. The university will respond to reports of retaliation and may take separate disciplinary action.


FAQs: If You’ve Been Accused

Q: Where can I go for information and help if I’ve been accused of sexual violence?

You can speak to your campus Respondent Services Coordinator, who is a trained individual who can help you understand your rights, explain the investigation and adjudication process, and refer you to campus and community resources that you may need.

Find your campus Respondent Services Coordinator: Respondent Services »

Q: What services does the respondent services coordinator provide?

The respondent services coordinator can:

  • Help you understand your rights
  • Explain and help you navigate the investigation and adjudication process
  • Refer you to campus and community resources for psychological counseling, legal services, alternative housing, academic changes and other needs
  • Assist with securing an interpreter or translator, if needed
Q: Will the respondent services coordinator keep what I tell them confidential?

As a general practice, respondent services coordinators will request written consent from you before sharing personally identifiable information that you’ve provided.

Respondent services coordinators are not required by state or federal law to keep information confidential. If the university receives a court order to provide information, the respondent services coordinator will be legally required to disclose it. In this scenario, the coordinator will try to inform you that information will be disclosed beforehand, if possible.

Q: If I’ve been accused, what are my rights?

You have the right to due process, meaning you have the right to be notified of the allegations and an opportunity to respond to them. You also have the right to understand the university’s investigation and adjudication process. Your campus respondent services coordinator can explain your rights to you and refer you to campus and community resources you may need, such as for alternative housing and academic changes.

Q: Should I hire an attorney?

Hiring an attorney is a personal decision. The respondent services coordinator can refer you to legal services that may be available to help you better understand your options.


FAQs: SVSA Investigation/Adjudication Model and Sanctions

Undergraduate and graduate students who have experienced sexual violence can speak confidentially to their campus CARE advocate to understand their rights and reporting options, including the option not to report. Students will also receive written explanations of these rights and reporting options. In addition, CARE advocates will inform students about counseling and other support resources that are available. Students accused of sexual violence or sexual harassment can contact their local Respondent Services Coordinator to help them understand their rights, the university’s investigation and adjudication process, and available resources.

Q: How does the new systemwide investigation/adjudication model work?

If a student decides to file a report of sexual violence with the university, the campus Title IX office will conduct a fair, thorough and impartial investigation and make factual findings and a recommendation as to whether a policy violation has occurred.

The Office of Academic Integrity & Student Conduct will review the investigation report and determine if the allegations have been substantiated and if UC’s Sexual Violence/Sexual Harassment policy has been violated. Both students will have an opportunity to meet with the Office of Academic Integrity & Student Conduct before a final decision is made. If there has been a policy violation, the Office of Academic Integrity & Student Conduct will assess the disciplinary sanction(s). Students will be notified of any sanctions within 10 business days of the notice of findings, as well as options for appealing.

Q: How do the new systemwide investigation guidelines, adjudication model and sanctions process differ from UC’s previous practice?

Campuses have long had investigation and adjudication processes in place to respond to reports of sexual violence and sexual harassment.

The new systemwide model establishes a consistent and efficient process for the investigation and adjudication of complaints of sexual violence and sexual harassment against students, and assigns specific authority, roles and responsibilities to certain offices to ensure consistency across the UC system. The new model outlines a trauma-informed (using practices that are sensitive to those who have experienced trauma) and fair process for the student filing the complaint (complainant) and the student responding to the complaint (respondent), allowing both an equal opportunity to be heard, to offer witnesses and evidence, to comment and to appeal. It also sets projected timeframes for the investigation, adjudication and appeals process in order to provide a prompt and effective response to complaints.

Q: Do I have to wait until the investigation and adjudication process is completed before the university will provide me with assistance or accommodations?

No. When the university learns of an incident of alleged sexual violence or sexual harassment, it will work with the complainant to put into place appropriate interim measures as needed to ensure the complainant’s safety, well-being, and equal access to university programs and activities. These measures could include no contact orders, housing assistance, academic support and accommodations, counseling, or other appropriate actions as needed.

Q: What is the minimum/maximum sanction for a student found in violation of the policy?

When determining a sanction, the Office of Academic Integrity & Student Conduct will consider the violation itself as well as other factors including the severity of the sexual violence or sexual harassment. The university’s model establishes a range of potential sanctions for each offense that all Offices of Academic Integrity & Student Conduct systemwide will consider, depending on the violation and the particular circumstances of the case.

Sanctions can range, depending on the offense, up to dismissal from the university for the most serious matters.

Q: What if I disagree with the results of the investigation, the Office of Academic Integrity & Student Conduct’s finding or the sanction? Can I appeal?

Yes. Both the complainant and the respondent have the right to appeal the findings and/or the sanction by submitting a written request to the Office of Academic Integrity & Student Conduct within 10 business days of receiving written notice of the decision and any sanctions that may be imposed. The appeal should identify the reason(s) the student is challenging the outcome, under one or more of the grounds outlined in the model.

An appeal board, made up of one to three appropriately trained individuals, will hear the matter and decide whether to uphold, overturn or modify the decision or sanctions.

If the appeal board upholds the decision, then the matter is over. If the appeal board overturns or modifies either the findings or the sanctions, either student has one additional opportunity to appeal by submitting a written request to the chancellor or the chancellor’s designee within 5 business days.

Q: If I disagree with the decision of the chancellor or the chancellor’s designee, can I appeal again?

No, there is no additional appeal after the chancellor’s or chancellor’s designee’s decision. The two-level appeal process is designed to ensure a fair independent review in the event a student disagrees with a decision.

Q: How long does the investigation and adjudication process take?

UC aims to complete investigations and determine any disciplinary sanctions within 60 business days. If a student files an appeal, UC will aim to complete the entire process — investigation, adjudication and appeal — within 120 business days from the date the Title IX office receives the report of sexual violence. The time frames are designed to bring a timely resolution for both the complainant and respondent.

The appropriate campus personnel will keep both students informed throughout the process.

Q: Will my name be kept confidential during the investigation?

Generally, the complainant and respondent will be notified of each other’s identity, in order to conduct a fair investigation.

The university will make every effort to protect the confidentiality and privacy of both the complainant and the respondent to the extent permitted by law and UC policy. Some UC personnel who are involved in the case will necessarily have access to personal information, including identifying information, in order to effectively respond to the complaint and maintain a safe environment for students.

Q: How will UC ensure a fair process for both the complainant and the respondent?

The new model provides equal opportunities for the complainant and respondent to comment during the investigation and adjudication process and to offer witnesses and evidence. Both students also have an equal right to appeal a decision or sanction, and to participate during the appeal process.

Because these processes can be complex, all UC campuses provide resources to help both student complainants and respondents understand their rights and the investigation and adjudication process. Complainants can contact their confidential campus CARE Advocate Office. Respondents can contact their campus Respondent Services Coordinator. Both resources also provide referrals to other services, such as counseling and academic support. Both students may be accompanied by a support person and an advisor of their choice, including an attorney, at any stage of the process.

Q: How will I know what’s happening during the investigation and adjudication process?

UC aims to provide clear, timely and consistent communication. The appropriate campus personnel will keep the complainant and respondent informed throughout the process. They will each receive a letter notifying them when an investigation begins. At the end of the investigation, they will each be notified of the investigation’s factual findings and recommendations about policy violations, and given a copy of the report. Both students also will receive the decision about whether the charges were substantiated, any sanctions imposed and options to appeal. If either student chooses to appeal, both students can participate in the appeal and will be notified of the results of the appeal.

The complainant can contact the CARE Advocate Office and the respondent can contact the Respondent Services Coordinator at any time for help in determining the status of the complaint.

Q: These new investigation and adjudication standards only apply to students. What is the process if the accused is a faculty or staff member?

A joint committee of the UC Administration and the Academic Senate, which includes student representatives, has been formed and will develop recommendations on handling cases of sexual violence, sexual assault, and sexual harassment involving UC faculty. The committee will present recommendations to President Napolitano by Feb. 29, 2016.

After the work of the joint committee on faculty is completed, the university plans to review existing processes, adjudication standards and sanctions for cases that involve staff members.

Q: How did UC develop these standards?

The President’s Task Force on Preventing and Responding to Sexual Violence and Sexual Assault formed a working group, comprised of Title IX officers, Student Conduct Officers, Vice Chancellors of Student Affairs, students, ombuds, CARE advocates, campus police, compliance, legal counsel, and Regents that developed the model and this systemwide framework.

In addition to having students on the working group, the committee also consulted with a wide range of UC students — both undergraduate and graduate students — throughout the process. The workgroup also reviewed procedures in place at other universities around the country, and consulted with UC law professors as well as nationally recognized experts in sexual violence and higher education law.

Q: How will UC ensure consistency across the system?

Training has been occurring throughout the year on conducting investigations and hearings consistent with trauma-informed practices. In the time leading up to the January 2016 implementation, the university has trained campus stakeholders, including Title IX officers, Offices of Student Conduct, investigators, and individuals responsible for hearing appeals on the new systemwide standards, so these new procedures are implemented consistently across all campuses. These employees will also receive ongoing training.

Q: Does UC plan to review the model’s effectiveness after it is implemented?

Yes. UC will be reviewing and evaluating the model, with input from students, Title IX officers, the Office of Academic Integrity & Student Conduct and other stakeholders, to ensure it effectively addresses reports of sexual violence and sexual harassment. In addition, as legal requirements change or are updated, the university will revisit its policies and programs to ensure compliance.

Q: Where can I find UC’s policy on Sexual Harassment and Sexual Violence?

You can find UC’s policies and codes of conduct on the university’s systemwide Sexual Violence Prevention & Response website.