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President Drake announces new Systemwide Office of Civil Rights

Dear UC colleagues:

Over the past several years, we have worked collectively as a university community to create a safer, more welcoming learning, working, and living environment for all. These efforts have translated into a number of significant systemwide initiatives that are helping us improve our ability to prevent, detect, and respond to all forms of harassment and discrimination. I want to thank the UC community for your ongoing engagement and thoughtful feedback in these endeavors.

Today, I’m pleased to share another important milestone in this work: the launch of the University of California’s first Systemwide Office of Civil Rights. This new umbrella office will provide systemwide leadership, guidance and support on issues related to protecting civil rights at our 10 campuses, medical centers, national labs, and the UC Office of the President. It will encompass the existing Systemwide Title IX Office, a new Systemwide Anti-Discrimination Office, and a new Systemwide Disability Rights Office. The executive director of this new office will report directly to me, and we are in the final stages of a national search for this important position. I expect we will be able to announce their appointment in the coming weeks.

We are creating the Systemwide Office of Civil Rights proactively — not in response to any particular incident, but rather in response to feedback from the UC community and based on the recommendation of a systemwide working group charged with developing the University’s Anti-Discrimination Policy. The working group’s process was informed by the University’s Systemwide Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment Policy, UC campuses’ current non-discrimination policies, and policies at UC comparator institutions of higher education. The working group found that UC students, staff, and faculty would greatly benefit from centralized oversight of these functions and a more consistent approach to how the University responds to allegations of discrimination and harassment. Recent events on campuses across the country have only reaffirmed the need for such a function. The new office will ensure uniform interpretation and implementation of related UC policies across our locations and provide comprehensive and consistent policies, guidance, training, education, and investigative support to the UC offices responsible for preventing and responding to harassment or discrimination on the basis of protected categories such as race, religion, and disability.

We want the University of California to be a fair and just learning, working, and living environment free of discrimination, and we must be responsive when issues arise that hinder us from achieving that goal. The Systemwide Office of Civil Rights will help us do that by supporting and enhancing the critical services that existing campus offices already provide.

Learn more about this new office, including how to get help if you are experiencing harassment or discrimination, here:

Michael V. Drake, M.D.
UC President

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