Title IX and Sexual Misconduct at University of California, Santa Barbara

The University of California, Santa Barbara, located in that coastal city northwest of Los Angeles, is one of the UC system's ten campuses. UC Santa Barbara is a land-grant college known for its engineering and science programs. It offers graduate studies in such fields as biochemistry, computer science, economics, education, marine science, physics, brain science, statistics, and technology management. It advertises enrollment of over 26,000 students, dozens of Guggenheim fellows, and status as the number one green public university in the nation. UC Santa Barbara offers residence halls, undergraduate apartments, and graduate, family, and faculty housing.

Read here how national Title IX attorney Joseph D. Lento's expert representation can help you successfully defend sexual-misconduct charges at UC Santa Barbara. Don't let UC Santa Barbara sexual-misconduct allegations keep you from earning your degree and pursuing your chosen career.

UC System Sexual Misconduct Policies and Procedures

The UC system has its own Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment Interim Policy governing UC Santa Barbara and its nine other campuses. The UC system adopted its current interim policy on August 14, 2020, to meet the new U.S. Department of Education Title IX regulations taking effect the same date, while also defining additional non-Title IX sexual misconduct within the same policy.

The UC system has an additional policy on student conduct and discipline that incorporates its interim sexual-violence policy but also prohibits lewd conduct and harassment based on sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, pregnancy, and other protected characteristics. These separate, non-Title IX policies further extend protections beyond those which Title IX requires. The UC system has separate adjudicative frameworks for Title IX sexual misconduct and non-Title IX sexual misconduct.

The UC system also urges its campuses to enhance those sexual-misconduct policies and procedures by adopting additional measures. The UC system also offers other guidance and resources on preventing and addressing sexual violence on a website to which UC Santa Barbara refers affected students.

UC Santa Barbara Sexual Misconduct Policies and Procedures

Given that the UC system's interim policy and policy on student conduct and discipline govern Title IX and other sexual-misconduct proceedings at UC Santa Barbara, UC Santa Barbara's website on sexual-violence prevention refers students to those UC-system policies. Unlike some other UC-system campuses, UC Santa Barbara does not promulgate and publicize its own sexual-misconduct policies supplementing UC-system policies. UC Santa Barbara does, however, maintain its own Office of Title IX & Sexual Harassment Policy Compliance and appoints a Director & Title IX Officer to carry out the UC-system policies. Consider next what those UC-system policies address and the UC-system procedures UC Santa Barbara follows to carry them out.

Title IX Misconduct

The University of California, Santa Barbara, must enforce Title IX's prohibition against sex discrimination if it is to continue receiving its substantial federal funding. In 2020, the U.S. Department of Education restricted Title IX sexual misconduct's definition while adding protections for both accuser and accused. Read here attorney Joseph Lento's summary of those recent Title IX interpretive changes. Title IX's current interpretation reaches only these three forms of sexual misconduct, each of which the UC system's interim sexual-misconduct policy also prohibits:

  • sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, or stalking;
  • quid-pro-quo harassment (attempting to trade favors for sex); or
  • unwelcome conduct so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive as to deny equal access to education based on sex.

UC System Sexual Misconduct

As already indicated, the UC system defines sexual misconduct more broadly than does Title IX. Universities receiving federal funds must prohibit Title IX misconduct but may define and punish other forms of sexual misconduct. The UC system's interim policy prohibits each of these additional forms of non-Title IX sexual misconduct:

  • invasions of sexual privacy including watching or helping others watch another's nudity or sexual acts without consent in a place having a reasonable expectation of privacy, and making or attempting recordings or posting, transmitting, or distributing recordings depicting that private nudity or those sexual acts;
  • relationship violence, meaning a pattern of abusive physical violence in a romantic or intimate relationship or non-physical conduct making a reasonable person fear that physical violence;
  • stalking, meaning repeated following, monitoring, observing, surveilling, threatening, communicating, or interfering with property, with sexual or romantic motivation, causing a reasonable person to fear for safety or suffer substantial emotional distress;
  • sexual intercourse with a person under the age of 18;
  • exposing genitalia in a public place for sexual gratification;
  • failing to comply with a no-contact order, suspension, or exclusion; or
  • retaliation against a person based on their report of alleged sexual misconduct.

Other definitions of these terms and phrases within the UC system's interim policy broaden these sexual-misconduct categories. Prohibited relationship violence can, for instance, include tactics such as threats, isolation, property destruction, abuse of pets, economic control, displaying weapons, degradation, or exploitation of a power imbalance. These definitions increase the risk of sexual-misconduct charges.

UC System Sexual Misconduct Procedures

Procedures can influence or even dictate the outcome of charges. As briefly indicated above, the UC system's interim sexual-misconduct policy mandates different procedures depending on whether the complaint implicates Title IX sexual misconduct or, instead, non-Title IX sexual misconduct. The Title IX procedures provide greater protections to the accused, while the non-Title IX procedures provide lesser protections.

Title IX Procedures. Under the UC system's Title IX procedures, UC Santa Barbara's Title IX Officer determines whether to initiate a Title IX Grievance Process when receiving a report of sexual misconduct. If so, then the Title IX Officer issues a Notice of Charge while appointing an Investigator. The Investigator interviews the accuser, accused, and other witnesses to prepare a report. The Investigator must share the draft report with the accuser and accused for their comment. A Student Conduct board then determines a sanction if the report finds misconduct. The matter then proceeds to a hearing unless both sides accept the sanction.

For cases proceeding to a hearing, the Title IX Officer first chooses a Hearing Officer who, after administering extensive pre-hearing procedures, schedules the hearing. Witnesses must attend the hearing and testify for the Hearing Officer to consider their testimony. An attorney advisor for the accused may attend the hearing to ask questions, including cross-examining adverse witnesses. Federal regulations require clear-and-convincing evidence for the Hearing Officer to find Title IX sexual misconduct. The procedures also provide for appeal by an aggrieved party.

Non-Title IX Procedures. The UC system's non-Title IX procedures permit UC Santa Barbara's Title IX Officer to decide whether to start a formal investigation of a complaint of sexual misconduct. If so, then the Officer issues notice of charges to the accused student, designating an Investigator to interview the accuser, accused, and other witnesses. The Investigator's report determines whether non-Title IX sexual misconduct occurred.

UC Santa Barbara initially offers no hearing on non-Title IX sexual-misconduct charges. Witnesses need not appear and testify, and the accused does not have the right of an attorney to cross-examine witnesses. If the report finds sexual misconduct, then a Student Conduct Board determines the sanction. A hearing does occur if either party objects to the sanctions, but the accused's rights fall short of the rights mandated for a Title IX hearing. The parties may propose questions, but the hearing officer asks them. The preponderance standard, not the clear-and-convincing-evidence standard, decides the charges.

UC-System Sexual-Misconduct Sanctions

UC Santa Barbara also applies the UC-system sexual-misconduct sanctions, just as UC Santa Barbara follows UC-system sexual-misconduct definitions and procedures. The UC system's interim policy on sexual misconduct first states that policy violations can result in the student's dismissal. It then refers to the UC system's student-conduct code for these other potential sanctions:

  • warning;
  • censure;
  • probation;
  • loss of privileges including exclusion from activities;
  • interim suspension;
  • dismissal;
  • revocation of an awarded degree; and
  • restitution.

Get the Best Available Representation

Students at UC Santa Barbara have everything on the line when they face sexual-misconduct charges under UC-system policies and procedures. Yet national Title IX attorney Joseph D. Lento has proven for hundreds of clients that a charge is not the same as a violation or finding of responsibility. UC-system procedures, especially those for Title IX charges but even those for non-Title IX charges, make plenty of room for expert attorney Joseph Lento to defeat false, fabricated, and exaggerated charges.

Join the wise college and university students nationwide who have retained Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm to save their education and career from sexual-misconduct charges and other disciplinary matters. National Title IX attorney Joseph Lento has the knowledge, skill, and experience to negotiate or win the best possible outcome for you when dealing with UC Santa Barbara misconduct charges. Call 888-535-3686 to schedule a consultation, or use the online service.

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If you, or your student, are facing any kind of disciplinary action, or other negative academic sanction, and are having feelings of uncertainty and anxiety for what the future may hold, contact our offices today, and let us help secure your academic career.

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