To the UConn Community:
As I wrote to you in May, the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has issued final rules regarding how educational institutions like UConn must respond to sexual misconduct under Title IX. These new rules went into effect on Friday, Aug. 14.
UConn’s leaders in key offices met throughout the summer to closely review these new rules and their impact on UConn. I want to take a moment in particular to thank the many students who reached out to the Title IX Coordinator and Office of Institutional Equity following my message to the campus community to ask questions and provide feedback about the new rules and their implementation on our campus. This input was important as our leaders worked to craft UConn’s updated Policy and procedures.
Today, we release an updated University Policy against Discrimination, Harassment and Related Interpersonal Violence. This updated Policy includes a new definition of Prohibited Conduct, “Title IX Sexual Harassment.” Incidents falling under the new definition, Title IX Sexual Harassment, will be investigated pursuant to updated investigation procedures, also effective Friday, as required by the new federal Title IX regulations. You can access UConn’s new Title IX investigation procedures for employees and students online.
Please know that we will continue to provide both supportive measures and investigations for complaints not falling under the Title IX Regulations. Our commitment and approach to providing support, resources and, where appropriate, a fair investigation process to incidents reported to the University that do not fall under the regulations is unchanged.
In addition, we heard your feedback over the past several months about the importance of creating additional safe spaces on our campuses for individuals to disclose incidents of sexual misconduct while maintaining agency to choose what happens next. In addition to the longstanding confidential resources on our campuses, we are adding a new reporting exemption for staff within our five Cultural Centers, the African American Cultural Center, Asian American Cultural Center, Puerto Rican and Latin American Cultural Center, Rainbow Center, and Women’s Center.
Staff within these centers, referred to as Exempt Employees under the new Policy, will offer individuals impacted by sexual misconduct information about resources, support and reporting. However, they will not report the information shared with them to the University unless the student and/or employee requests that the information be shared (unless someone is in imminent risk of serious harm or a minor). While Exempt Employees do not have the ability to implement supportive measures in response to a disclosure, they can provide information about how students and employees may receive such supportive measures.
We are deeply committed to our ongoing work at UConn to preventing sexual misconduct from happening on our campuses while also responding with compassion and fairness to incidents that do occur. We believe that our Policy and procedures updates are consistent with these values, and we reaffirm our commitment to supporting any member of our community impacted by sexual misconduct.
If you have any questions or comments about our new Policy or procedures, I encourage you to reach out to our Interim Title IX Coordinator in the Office of Institutional Equity, Sarah Chipman.