Office of the President

November 20, 2017

Understanding your resources to prevent and address sexual misconduct

Ana Mari Cauce


UW Seattle Health and Wellness Advocate
Serves Seattle campus students

UW Police Department Victim Advocate
Serves individuals on the Seattle campus

UW Bothell Victim Advocate & Educator
Serves UW Bothell students

UW Tacoma Student Advocacy & Support
Serves UW Tacoma students

UW SafeCampus  
Serves members of the UW community on all campuses

As I wrote earlier this fall, the University of Washington is wholly committed to preventing sexual misconduct and to responding to incidents with respect and compassion. As all the revelations of late have shown us, sexual harassment and assault is all too common, and we are certainly not immune to it in academic environments. Sexual abuse and misconduct can and does occur in many settings and in many ways, with students, staff, and faculty all potential victims.  While below I will focus primarily on students, at the end of this letter there and links to resources that can be accessed by all members of our community.

It is our obligation to make sure that UW students understand the standards we hold them to as responsible members of the University community. These standards reflect our values, our policies, and state and federal law, including Title IX, which prohibits sexual harassment, sexual assault and other forms of discrimination on the basis of sex. For our faculty and staff, it’s also important to be aware of these policies and the role we all play in upholding these responsibilities.

The Student Conduct Code and its companion policies define students’ rights and responsibilities and govern how conduct proceedings work. Over the past year, we have revised the code and created companion policies to continue to improve how we address sexual misconduct. While the U.S. Department of Education recently withdrew some Title IX guidance in regards to sexual assault, we will not be revising the UW’s policies. Our commitment to prevention and response will not waver.

I want to take this opportunity to highlight a few provisions of the student code and policies and what they mean in practice:

  • Any student who may have been impacted by sexual misconduct, including sexual assault, has the right to report it to the University and to access UW support services.
  • Students accused of misconduct will receive notice of any alleged prohibited conduct and an opportunity to be heard. In any matter where a student is facing dismissal or suspension, a hearing is also held.
  • Once a finding is made, students may request a review of that decision, which will be conducted by trained faculty reviewers.
  • Preponderance of the evidence will remain the standard of proof in conduct proceedings.

If and when the Department of Education proposes any new regulations, we will review them carefully and welcome input and commentary from all members of our community.

The University has a range of support resources available. If you or someone you know has experienced any form of sexual misconduct, including sexual assault, harassment, intimate partner violence, sexual misconduct, stalking, or retaliation, please connect with a confidential advocate. To reach an advocate or for more information and support, visit the Sexual Assault Resources website. You can also reach out to our Title IX Coordinator, Kate Leonard.

I encourage all of us to learn more about the realities of sexual assault, harassment and other forms of sexual misconduct. And remember: as members of this community, it’s on us to protect and care for each other.