UC Santa Cruz’s Title IX office received 471 official reports between 2021 and 2022. Those are only the cases that were actually reported.
Survivors may hesitate to file investigations with Title IX for a variety of reasons. The thought of going through Title IX’s investigative process, which can take up to 90 days to complete, was anxiety-provoking for a third-year student who shared their experiences.
“I feel like making it an actual thing that’s written down is very scary,” said a source who chose to remain anonymous. “You’re going through this whole process of reliving trauma and talking about it in depth, talking to different people about it and coming up with evidence […] And it’s not necessarily guaranteed you’re gonna get anything out of it.”
The source considered going to Title IX for help during the summer of 2021, but decided not to as the legal work the Title IX office can provide made the source reluctant to go forward with a report.
“You don’t have to do [an investigation], but I think that as a background part of it it makes it feel kind of intimidating,” they said. Title IX offers investigative services, but this is not the extent of the office’s services.
Kyle Sasai, a Complaint Resolution Officer at UCSC’s Title IX office, says that many students believe Title IX’s sole job is to perform full investigations. However, it can also act as an intermediary for victims and perpetrators to engage in non- punitive mediation.
“If folks need alternate [classwork] assignments [or] excused absences, I can take care of all those pieces. I can help with housing accommodations if folks need to move out of their space or move off campus to make them feel safe,” Sasai said. “And [we can provide] other support measures, things like no contact orders, for example, or referrals to the CARE office or CAPS.”
The Campus Advocacy Resources and Education (CARE) Center’s mission is to provide confidential support to sexual assault or sexual violence survivors. They provide resources to students of all identities, with specific resources for communities such as Survivors of Color and LGBTQ+ survivors. In the 2019-20 school year CARE served 267 clients and 2,225 total services including case management, advocacy, and safety planning.
Of 471 reports Title IX received from 2021 to 2022, 247 lacked sufficient information to carry out resolution procedures. In these reports, victims either opted out of providing in-depth information about their experience, were not responsive to outreach from the office, or could not identify their respondents. In 60 cases, reporters requested that an investigation not take place.
According to Sasai, victims are increasingly seeking other forms of assistance from Title IX.
“Sometimes when folks are impacted by an incident, […] they want to see the other person have to just go through education or learn more about consent, have an educational conversation with our office, or have a no-contact directive,” Sasai said. “It can be a lot quicker, it could be more trauma- informed […] It’s more educational in nature rather than it leading to something punitive at the end.”
In addition to addressing the common misconceptions regarding resources available, Sasai believes in promoting better sex education, which has the potential to stop sexual violence before it happens.
“Sometimes there’s a misunderstanding of what consent looks like, about how consent can be retracted at any point in time, that the absence of saying yes is not saying yes,” said Sasai. “There are nuances when it comes to consent that I wish we talked about more on this campus that would help a whole lot of prevention with these incidents.”
Mayrín Rodriguez, a Lead Intern at the UCSC Womxn’s Center, feels that many of the university’s resources for victims of sexual assault get lost and are seldom promoted.
“I think that there needs to be more publicity on resources that [are not staffed by] mandated reporters because a lot of times it can be really intimidating to reach out,” said Rodriguez.
Survivors may also need support and community. For that, Rodriguez says, they can always come to the Womxn’s Center. Rodriguez is frequently reminded of the ways the Womxn’s Center provides a nurturing environment for survivors to heal and reclaim their agency. There, they are reminded that they are not alone in their experiences.
To uplift victims and raise awareness about sexual violence, the Womxn’s Center hosted a series of events throughout April in honor of Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Events included a self-defense class, a survivor shareout and march on campus, and several support groups.
“You kind of feel that you’re the only person in the world that has gone through this,” said Rodriguez. “So I think being in community with people that truly understand you and understand what you’ve been through can be so empowering.”
Jasmin Toledo, the other Lead Intern at the Womxn’s Center, says her favorite part of her position is bonding with other students and helping them cultivate a safe space.
She encourages survivors to seek help and be patient with themselves as they navigate their difficult experiences.
“Your story is valid and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise, because there are so many opinions when it comes to survivors’ stories,” Toledo said. “Honor yourself first.”
Editor’s note: City on a Hill Press is republishing this piece with corrections regarding facts surrounding the Title IX office and campus resources.