The University of California has expanded its policy against sexual violence to include new education and reporting requirements and broader protection for victims.

It applies to all UC students and employees and all university programs and activities. The policy covers sexual and domestic violence, stalking and harassment.

"We have no tolerance for sexual violence or harassment of any kind," UC President Janet Napolitano said in a news release.

"The university must, and will, hold itself to the highest standards, and I expect all of our locations to do everything possible to make everyone aware of these standards."

The issue has been prominent at UC Berkeley, where current and former students have publicly complained of unfair and insensitive treatment of their assault complaints.

UC's announcement came on a federal deadline to comply with the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act.

Among the UC policy changes are expanded training and education, stricter reporting requirements, more protections for victims and specific sanctions and protective measures that the university may impose.

Two students who have advocated sweeping reforms at UC said they were glad to see the policy states clearly that consensual sex requires an "informed, unambiguous and conscious" decision. That general concept existed in the old policy, but this one expands and clarifies it.


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Still, they said, the use of the term "prompt" was too vague a description of the how quickly an investigation must begin. They also had hoped that students reporting sexual violence would be assured a formal investigation, unless they state otherwise.

"Here again, we're seeing it's up to the Title IX coordinator or officer to determine whether a case gets a formal investigation, which is one of the problems we have currently," said Aryle Butler, one of the students who has filed complaints against UC Berkeley with the U.S. Department of Education. "The idea that the sole power rests in one office and the survivor has no say in it is very, very concerning."

Added Sofie Karasek, a UC Berkeley student who has spoken out about the campus's practices: "They incorporated some of the suggestions that we made, but it's not going to come even close to solving the problem."

The outcry at Cal is part of a national movement of sexual violence victims pressuring campuses to deal swiftly, consistently and fairly with a problem that, according to a White House task force report, affects one in five college women.

Late last month, a group of current and former students asked the U.S. Department of Education to investigate the university, arguing that Cal violated federal anti-discrimination laws by failing to protect them against sexual harassment and assault.

Cal's sexual assault policies -- and those of UCLA, Chico State and San Diego State -- also are being investigated by the Legislature's Joint Audit Committee.

ONLINE
Read the new University of California policy against sexual and domestic violence, stalking and harassment at www.mercurynews.com/education.