Dear UA Community,
I wrote to you during the spring semester to express my concern regarding instances of sexual assault, relationship violence and discrimination on our campus and, more importantly, the University’s response to alleged incidents. At that time, I committed to ensuring that our approaches to education, prevention, adjudication and survivor support are exemplars across the country, while maintaining a consistent, fair and transparent process.
As part of that commitment, the University retained Natasha Baker from Hirschfeld Kraemer. Ms. Baker is a nationally recognized expert on campus sexual violence, and Title IX training, processes and procedures. Her charge at Arizona was wide-ranging to help us improve in all areas related to campus sexual violence and harassment. After several months of intensive work, interviews with more than 55 individuals and a review of thousands of documents, Ms. Baker has provided me an update. Our Title IX policies and procedures that are in place at the University of Arizona are in compliance with the law and federal guidelines, and our training requirements also meet federal law and Clery Act requirements.
However, while we are in compliance with federal rules and regulations, we must do more if we strive to be a national model for our approach. Ms. Baker advised us of a number of areas where we can improve on our path to excellence in awareness, communication and response to campus sexual violence. Because I know that action is more important than words, we are taking the following steps to enhance our Title IX response:
- Our Title IX Coordinator position will become a new, full-time position. This is an enhancement to our current structure where the coordinator holds Title IX as one among multiple job roles and duties. A national search will begin in the coming days to identify outstanding, experienced candidates for the new position.
- We are taking immediate steps to unify our Title IX processes, procedures and personnel to eliminate any confusion and to maximize our investigative resources. This process will be guided and expanded under the leadership of the new Title IX Coordinator.
- We are making slight adjustments to some of the procedures to enhance the Title IX process and to reflect current best practices, above and beyond the legal requirements.
- Two institutionally funded advocate positions will be created to support survivors of sexual assault, relationship violence and discrimination. In addition, a respondent services coordinator position will be created to assist the accused with navigating the process and accessing resources.
- The University will create a protocol between UAPD and campus investigators regarding information-sharing and use of evidence, as well as increasing training for all UAPD officers about the protocol.
- All staff in campus health facilities, including physicians, nurses and support staff, will receive University-led training in campus sexual violence and their responsibilities with it. More work can be done to ensure a seamless referral to campus resources and to the campus fact-finding process.
- Additional Deputy Title IX Coordinators will be appointed at appropriate locations within the University, including University locations beyond Tucson.
- Additional training and education will be implemented for all University mandatory reporting employees and those tasked with compliance with the Clery Act.
- We will enhance the UA’s prevention efforts by incorporating the excellent work that is being done in individual units into University-wide efforts, making those good ideas available to a wider audience.
- We will make all reasonable efforts to provide transparency during the anticipated personnel transitions and to share more broadly the University’s story of our efforts in prevention, education, training and survivor support.
As we redefine and increase our commitment to our Title IX efforts, Mary Beth Tucker will continue to serve as the University of Arizona’s Title IX Coordinator until the search for the full-time position is successfully completed. She also has agreed to co-lead that important effort. Ms. Tucker has been a leader in shaping this new model and an advocate for focusing the new role exclusively on campus equity issues. On behalf of the University community, I want to express my sincere gratitude to Mary Beth for serving our campus community with distinction in the Coordinator role.
This is not the end but rather just the beginning of our efforts to improve and enhance our Title IX efforts and our support for those who have survived sexual or domestic violence and harassment, as they are at the center of our commitment.
Robert C. Robbins
The University of Arizona