The University of Virginia has enacted a new Interim Policy on Sexual and Gender-Based Harassment and Other Forms of Interpersonal Violence that applies to students, faculty and staff. The interim policy is effective immediately.
The interim policy reflects many community-wide conversations about how best to prevent and respond to sexual assault, sexual and gender-based harassment and violence, intimate partner violence, sexual exploitation, stalking, complicity and retaliation. Nearly 600 individuals responded to a draft of a revised student policy shared with the community in late November.
The interim policy replaces the “Policy and Procedures for Student Sexual Misconduct Complaints,” which was adopted in July 2011. Many of the changes at that time were made in response to a “Dear Colleague” letter issued by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights earlier that year.
The development of this interim policy considered:
- evolving federal and state law and guidance, to ensure that policy reflects current legal requirements;
- improvements to procedures and practices based on the University’s experience with the prior policy over the past several years;
- trauma-informed approaches and training and;
- fair and impartial proceedings based upon due process of the law.
Despite the concentrated effort and careful attention focused on the interim policy, the University expects additional revisions in the coming months upon receipt of input and recommendations from ongoing internal and external reviews. Changes to related policies also will be required in the coming weeks to ensure institutional consistency.
“The interim policy is an important step in our continued efforts to eliminate, prevent and address sexual and gender-based harassment and violence on Grounds and to respond effectively when it occurs,” U.Va. President Teresa A. Sullivan wrote in a message to faculty, staff and students. “I am grateful for your broad support, as we work together to make our University as safe as possible for everyone in our community.”
The interim policy is available for review online here. The website includes an executive summary, which summarizes the proposed changes.