Thank you for the opportunity to respond to your demands, and thank you for your ongoing advocacy to ensure that the University of San Francisco is doing all it can to prevent and address sexual violence. Following each of the five demands below are responses that the university hopes will serve as a pathway for continuing work together.
“1. Father Fitzgerald must apologize for the University’s failures in addressing sexual violence. He must meet with survivor and student-led organizations on campus committed to reducing sexual violence.”
Fr. Fitzgerald sent a message to the organizers of “It’s On USFCA” on Friday, Oct. 15, writing in part: “Since seeing your demands on the Instagram account of ‘It’s On USFCA,’ I have been working with staff colleagues to respond to and address many of the specifics you raised,” and added, “I am deeply sorry that members of our community — including current students and alums — have been harmed and traumatized by sexual misconduct and assault. I am committed to working with students, faculty, and leaders of divisions across our campuses to ensure that our policies and protocols are clear, accessible, and focused on the survivor-centered approach that we prioritize. From the survivor accounts in the Sports Illustrated article and stories that were shared at last week’s speak out events, it is clear we must do more to prevent sexual violence, support members of our community, and communicate clearly.”
Fr. Fitzgerald has met with ASUSF in an open forum, and will meet with other groups as requested, such as the USF REPS committee (Resources, Education, Prevention and Support) over the next month, and with representatives from other student and administrative groups.
“2. Survivor-centered Title IX policies (as of August 2020, they are not) regardless of DeVos’ Title IX Rule.”
The USF Policy on Nondiscrimination Based on Sex and Gender, Sexual Harassment, and Sexual Misconduct is always under review. As laws and court orders evolve USF also reviews and updates its policy. What does not change is the inclusion of practices directly from survivor-centered approaches. While the university’s policy must be compliant with laws and regulations from the U.S. Department of Education and State of California, there is intentional use of protocols that prioritize survivors’ rights, needs, and wishes. Any future updates and revisions to the policy will continue to have these approaches included. Examples of these protocols include, but are not limited to:
- Survivors may choose what their participation looks like from options the school provides, including choosing not to respond to outreach from the Title IX Office.
- Survivors have the right to choose no further action when a report is filed with the university. They may come back at any time to seek information regarding the options available. Resources and support measures are available regardless of whether action on a report is taken.
- Survivors are never required to be in the same physical room with the perpetrator during any meetings or proceedings in the formal grievance process, unless specifically requested to do so by the survivor.
- Survivors have access to resources and support measures to ensure they can continue their academics and university involvement. They may choose which resources and support measures to use, and may come back at any time to request or revise support measures.
- When reporting and/or participating in a grievance process, the university provides amnesty to survivors and witnesses from minor policy violations related to the event (e.g., underage consumption of alcohol or use of illicit drugs at the time of the incident).
- Survivors have the right to have an advisor of their choice with them for all meetings and proceedings of a grievance process.
- The university can assist a survivor with receiving medical aid (including an evidence collection kit) by providing transportation to and from the hospital or medical facility (within San Francisco) or arrange for other transportation assistance (outside of San Francisco, e.g., reimbursement for a rideshare to a medical facility).
- The university can assist a survivor with reporting to law enforcement, if they so choose. The university can provide transportation to and from the police station (within San Francisco) or arrange for other transportation assistance (outside of San Francisco, e.g., reimbursement for rideshare to a police station).
CONTINUING RESPONSE TO OFF-CAMPUS INCIDENTS
USF will continue to provide response and options for incidents that occur off campus, which is not currently required by Title IX if it does not meet certain criteria. If the alleged person is within the jurisdiction of the university (an enrolled student or current employee), they can be held accountable through USF’s formal grievance process when a survivor wishes to pursue that option or when the university believes there is a continued threat of individual or campus harm by that person.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR FEEDBACK ON POLICY UPDATES
Updates and revisions to the policy will be reviewed by the USF REPS Committee, which includes student representatives, to receive feedback and suggestions for further inclusions of survivor-centered and trauma-informed approaches. The university also welcomes any community member who wishes to provide feedback, ask questions, and engage in conversation about USF policy and procedures. The Title IX Office can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“3. Creation of a student and survivor Sexual Violence Taskforce”
The university is committed to working with students to learn more about this particular item and administrative leaders have reached out to the organizers of “It’s On USFCA.” Currently, the USF REPS (Resources, Education, Prevention and Support) Committee aims to end sexual violence on campus through connecting students to resources, educating our community, preventing and intervening in disrespectful situations, and providing support to the community. There are 11 student representatives on the REPS Committee this year, in addition to an ASUSF representative with a specific focus on Title IX work. The university is hopeful that the organizers and students from the REPS Committee can meet and discuss ways to bolster student and survivor opportunities for engagement with the Title IX office and continued work on education, prevention, and advocacy.
In early 2021, USF created a new confidential advocate position in CAPS, titled Sexual Violence Resource Advocate. In July 2021, Lisa Quach, M.S.W., was hired into this position to provide specialized counseling and support to any student who has experienced sexual violence.
The university continues to offer the Yoga as Healing program. This program provides a space to aid in the support and healing of individuals who have experienced sexual violence, gender bias, gender discrimination, and trauma. This program is held each semester over a number of weeks with different themes and physical yoga practice. During COVID, this program has migrated to an online platform, but continues to reach capacity each semester.
Additional feedback is welcomed and may be sent to email@example.com.
“4. Required course and/or training for ALL community members (students, faculty, staff, coaches, etc.) at least quarterly.”
The university agrees that education for students, faculty, and staff is an effective way to increase the community’s knowledge of the expectations for interpersonal behavior, how to recognize and assist in situations of disrespect (including how to report violations), and resources on- and off-campus to provide support to any members of our community involved in an incident.
Hiring a deputy Title IX coordinator in April 2021 has been instrumental to increasing the bandwidth of the Title IX office and the opportunities for the USF community to receive continual education. Along with the numerous annual trainings provided to mandatory reporters, there has been increased targeted outreach to student groups and organizations to have workshops on healthy relationships, consent, and recognizing disrespect.
The conversation must continue beyond the online Not Anymore module that all incoming USF students take. While incoming students have follow-up during orientation with an in-person session, there must be more for continuing students, off-campus residing students, and graduate programs. There are currently plans to update the mandatory reporter training for all employees, including a new website with information for mandatory reporters about what and how to report. A new “request a workshop” option is available on the Title IX myUSF site for any USF community member to work with the deputy Title IX coordinator to tailor a workshop for their group, organization, team, or class.
Currently, all new employees complete a two-hour online anti-harassment training and mandatory reporter training. Human Resources will explore educational programming and awareness to be incorporated in division and department meetings and will collaborate with the Title IX Office to identify best ways to expand courses and trainings for all community members.
“5. Increased funding for sexual violence prevention and awareness programming year-round, including more transparent and comprehensive Title IX messaging.”
Funding for effective, current, and abundant sexual violence prevention and awareness programming is essential. USF is committed to providing this programming and will review current funding sources for this work and work with the community to determine additional funding needs.
The students working with the USF REPS Committee are assisting the Title IX Office in understanding ways to increase transparent and comprehensive messaging. This includes using social media, website updates, in-person sessions, and providing feedback on ways to make the language of our materials accessible to all audiences within the USF community. New ways to improve messaging and reach the USF community is always welcome.
For more information, please visit the Title IX myUSF site. The university looks forward to continued work on this very important issue.