Kathleen Salvaty began her role Feb. 6 as UC’s first Systemwide Title IX Coordinator, reporting directly to President Janet Napolitano. She oversees UC’s ongoing efforts to effectively prevent and respond to sexual violence and sexual harassment, which includes education, investigation, adjudication and sanctioning in cases involving students, faculty and staff.

She was previously the Title IX coordinator at UCLA for two years. Before joining UC, she was an attorney for nearly two decades with experience in civil rights law, including serving as Executive Director of the Los Angeles Police Department Blue Ribbon Rampart Review Panel, which evaluated and made recommendations regarding police reform.

1. It seems as though sexual harassment continues at UC. We keep hearing about new cases. What’s really changed?

We have taken significant steps to prevent sexual harassment, but also realize it is unrealistic to expect that we will be able to entirely eliminate it. What we can do is ensure that we have consistent, fair and strong responses, and continue to strengthen our prevention efforts. We have made significant improvements over the past several years, and we are committed to continually doing better.

2. UC has received criticism for not going far enough with sanctions against faculty or staff for misconduct. What are your thoughts on that?

Some cases have raised legitimate questions about whether the right sanctions were imposed. To that end, the university has taken a number of steps to strengthen disciplinary and sanctioning procedures. The president has convened a systemwide peer review committee to determine sanctions against senior leaders in the event they are found to have violated the university’s sexual harassment and sexual violence policies. Also, each campus is developing its own peer review committee to advise the chancellors on cases involving faculty members found responsible for sexual violence or sexual harassment. I believe systemwide consistency is important, just as it is to hold people accountable for wrongdoing, no matter who they are.

3. Some believe UC needs to be more transparent when it comes to how it handles sexual violence and sexual harassment cases. How has UC been responsive to those concerns?

We are committed to transparency and accountability, but we have to be mindful that we are dealing with highly sensitive information. We must protect the privacy of complainants who made the often difficult decision to come forward. We must also maintain the integrity of the investigation of ongoing cases. The UC Policy on Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment requires that both the complainants and respondents receive a copy of the investigation report, and information on actions taken in response to the findings, including the discipline imposed. That alone is a critical step toward more transparency and accountability. We have also developed simpler and more transparent processes, which makes them easier to explain to both complainants and respondents.

4. Timeliness is an important component of the investigations and adjudications processes. Do you agree that UC needs to improve in this area?

I agree that the timeliness of investigations is important, which is why we are focused on improving it. But we also have to make sure we conduct a thorough investigation that gives all parties the opportunity to be heard. Current UC policy requires that an investigation be completed within 60 days, absent a good cause. If an extension is granted, the parties must be notified with reasons for the delay. I think this strikes the right balance. We want to reach findings promptly, while ensuring their integrity.

5. UC has announced a lot of changes to its policies, but it seems the implementation is taking longer than expected. Why?

Implementing large-scale change is not easy. We’ve been engaging stakeholders throughout the system — students, staff, faculty — to ensure they understand the new policies and procedures and to address concerns they may have. It’s important to remember that some critical improvements — such as the confidential CARE advocates, the UC Policy on Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment, and the mandatory training requirement — have been in place for some time. We have come a long way, and are committed to further improvement. We want to get this right.

6. As someone who’s been UCLA’s Title IX coordinator, what do you think makes a culture shift at the campus level so difficult?

This issue of changing mindsets is something I’ve frequently talked about with our students. UC can implement the best policies and procedures in the nation, but we cannot change the culture unless the members of our community own their role in preventing sexual harassment and sexual violence. I give so much credit to the students who first stood up and spoke out about how damaging sexual violence and sexual harassment can be. Some of the headlines have been painful, but they have illustrated why change is needed and moved our community to think hard about this issue. We need to keep that conversation going, even after the headlines fade.

7. With a new administration in office, should we worry about changes or funding for UC’s Title IX policies?

Regardless of which administration is in Washington, UC will remain fully committed to addressing sexual violence and sexual harassment in our community. While one can argue procedural points, no one can dispute that our students and employees have the right to learn and work in a safe environment. Title IX is not going anywhere, and our community members are increasingly aware of their rights under the law. I don’t think anyone can turn back the clock on this issue.