By Kelly Kimball
Photo courtesy of NY Daily News
Find original article HERE.
A recent report on a sexual violence protocol and what it means to the UC Irvine community.
UC President Janet Napolitano’s new policy on sexual harassment and sexual violence on college campuses was more of a statement of awareness than an issuance of a new widespread policy. Napolitano’s initiative, published via email to all UC students on March 7, was nonetheless an incredible step in the right direction in educating and making more students aware of taboo topics, such as rape and domestic violence. However, how has it changed the way UC Irvine sees its protocol?
The Policy: Why New Changes Now?
On Feb. 28, 2013, the Senate voted to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), an act that serves to protect victims of crimes, such as rape, domestic violence, stalking, dating violence, and other types of assault. This prompted a White House initiative to be published in Jan. 2014 modeled by VAWA that is specifically geared toward college campuses.
This was an initiative that hoped to establish uniform policies, including having transparent campus track records regarding the procedures and programs used to prevent these crimes from happening.
Napolitano’s report was a reaction to this protocol, hoping to detail and re-define the language surrounding these issues and making aware the dramatic statistics surrounding these crimes. The report deconstructs definitions from “stalking” to “consent,” allowing for the language of the report to read with a fluid and comprehensive vernacular. It took into account the entire UC-affiliated jurisdiction, including all UC campuses and even the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Her report also offered a full breakdown of how the UC staff, faculty, and affiliates should respond at the wake of an assault.
What Does This Mean to UC Irvine?
Napolitano’s report acted more like a reaffirmation of the policies already expressed profoundly and concretely on our campus. While it cannot be said for all UC campuses, UC Irvine has one of the best protocols in response to sexual assault crises, the most transparent procedures, and the best educational programs in the state of California, according to Senator Kevin de León in a political gathering on Feb. 10 that responded to the White House College Sexual Assault Legislation.
What Napolitano’s report means is that UC Irvine will be a model campus for colleges across the nation that are lacking the mandatory uniformity called upon by the White House and, now, UC President Janet Napolitano. At this same conference, Sandra Henriquez, Executive Director of the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault, asserted that, “This legislation focuses on survivors and requires colleges and universities to develop survivor-centered policies while also providing them with the best resources and support services available.” UC Irvine’s protocol will undoubtedly serve as a guide for other campus policies.
“We’re going to help schools do a better job at preventing and responding to sexual assault on their campuses,” stated President Barack Obama in a weekly address published on Jan. 25 just after issuing a White House report on these topics.
President Obama goes on to say that our nation’s current survivors should not feel alone in their healing process or in their search for justice. “I’ve got your back. I’m going to keep pushing for others to step up across my administration, in Congress, in state capitals, in college campuses, and military bases all across our country. This is a priority for me,” said Obama.
Will this priority of reaching uniformity and solidarity across the UC system be met? Only time along with the continued efforts of our campus, its profound student leaders, and professional staff will tell. These people fight for everyone’s right to safety, equality, and justice.
What does UCI do that makes it so notable? Read up on our campus’ services and programs through the Campus Assault Resources and Education (CARE) office at www.care.uci.edu.