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UVA Statement on Title IX / Sexual Misconduct Investigation

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UVA Statement on Title IX / Sexual Misconduct Investigation:

The University has been working with the U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights since summer of 2011 on its review of our policies and practices in the area of Title IX/sexual misconduct. The University has worked to provide OCR any information needed, and will continue to do so. To our knowledge, it remains an open review at OCR.

Prevention of sexual misconduct, and addressing allegations of the same, are issues that the University of Virginia devotes resources to and takes very seriously. In February, UVA hosted a conference intended to launch a national discussion among higher education communities on the complexities surrounding prevention and adjudication of sexual misconduct among college students. The conference included candid discussion among college and university presidents, students, survivors of sexual misconduct,student affairs professionals, legal and sexual violence experts.

During the conference, the University agreed with colleagues from elsewhere that we need to make the conversation about sexual assault an integral part of the student experience, beginning in the first year and continuing through all years of undergraduate or graduate school attendance at UVA. We expect that this will include peer-led conversations and peer advising, as well as delivery of important information (such as the meaning of effective consent) via both on-line and live speaker means.

We also know that active bystander education is important, and that we need to mobilize our entire student community -- the great majority of whom will never commit assault – to assist in prevention and reporting. Bystanders may hesitate to step forward to prevent a potential act of sexual violence because of embarrassment, shyness, or fear of reprisal. These barriers can be addressed through ongoing education and training. In addition, the Office of the Dean of Students has hired a Program Coordinator for Prevention who will begin work in mid-August. These recent developments illustrate the significant amount of momentum building around prevention.

Since 1998, there have been 26 hearings before the Sexual Misconduct Board. 13 ended with guilty findings; 12 with not-guilty findings; and one resulted with an admission of guilt prior to verdict. The University has imposed interim remedial measures (such as relocating an accused student from a residence hall, changing class assignments to remove an accused student from the same class as the accuser, or issuing “no contact” directives to accused students) in most cases prior to any formal hearing.

The University’s definition of sexual misconduct is broad. It includes acts in addition to nonconsensual sexual intercourse (rape), to include sexual harassment, stalking, and other forms of nonconsensual sexual contact. Thus, not all of the 25 cases before the SMB involved allegations of nonconsensual sexual intercourse. Complete definitions and other policy information may be found here: http://www.virginia.edu/sexualviolence/sexualassault/reportingoptions/sab.html

The SMB may impose a range of sanctions, up to and including suspension and expulsion. Students have been suspended for as long as two years, and have been required to undergo education, counseling and other requirements before being allowed to return to the University. No students have been expelled by the Sexual Misconduct Board from the University in the past 10 years. In addition, no students have been expelled by the University Judiciary Committee during the same time period for other violations of the University’s Standards of Conduct. The only permanent expulsions of students during this ten year period were by the Honor Committee, which is required to impose that sole sanction upon a finding of guilt.

McGregor McCance
Senior Director of Media Relations
Office of University Communications
University of Virginia