Campus Sexual Assault - Student Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Model Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)?

The Model MOU is a sample agreement between campuses, law enforcement agencies and community-based organizations to ensure that there is a coordinated and effective response to reports of sexual assault or violence. The Model MOU instructs campuses on how to best respond – and hopefully decrease – sexual violence against students. If campuses effectively implement the Model MOU, victims/survivors will no longer bear the burden of navigating both on- and off-campus reporting and response systems on their own.

The Model MOU consists of two parts: a Template MOU and How-To Guide. The Model MOU has been crafted for customization and adoption by campuses and law enforcement agencies as they develop and/or improve their procedures in response to campus sexual assault. The Template MOU provides sample language for an agreement between campuses, law enforcement agencies and community-based organizations. The How-To Guide explains the various elements that campuses and law enforcement should consider and account for in their MOU, and provides examples of additional content the parties might want to add to the Template to reach their final agreement. Campuses and their law enforcement partners should use the How-To Guide to help tailor each section of the Template MOU to their local needs.

The Model MOU was created by the California Attorney General’s Office and University of California Office of the President, in partnership with the Alameda County and San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Offices and the San Francisco and Oxnard Police Departments.

What is the purpose of the Model MOU?

Put simply, the purpose is to increase transparency of the reporting process, enhance coordination between reporting systems and improve responses of campuses and law enforcement agencies to campus sexual assault.

The Model MOU is designed to help colleges/universities and law enforcement improve their response to incidents of campus sexual assault and violence. This will ensure a safer learning environment for students. Victims/survivors of sexual assault deserve to be supported and respected when they report to campus and/or law enforcement authorities, and the MOU asks all parties to commit to a victim-centered, trauma-informed response that promotes justice for victims/survivors and accountability for perpetrators of sexual violence.

Recent changes in California law require California campuses by July 1, 2015 to have policies in place to ensure that reports of violent crime, hate crime, or sexual assault made to a campus authority are immediately disclosed to local law enforcement. This applies to crimes that are committed on- and off-campus. The Model MOU helps campuses comply with this and other state and federal laws.

Who is impacted by the Model MOU?

The Model MOU is a suggested agreement between the college campus, local law enforcement agencies, and other appropriate participants, including Rape Crisis Centers, community-based organizations, and local medical facilities.

The procedures established under the Model MOU apply to all University students and employees, including faculty members, administrators, and student employees.

How does the Model MOU address my needs as a student?

Under the Model MOU, campuses and law enforcement should, among other things:

  1. Make clear to their students and employees how to report an incident of sexual assault or violence.
  2. Clarify each party’s duties, including who will act as first responder, who will collect and preserve evidence, and how to share necessary information while preserving victim/survivor privacy.
  3. Work together with community-based organizations to promptly connect victims/survivors to services, including health exams – and with the victim/survivor’s consent, a sexual assault forensic exam (commonly known as a rape kit) – and referrals to counseling.
  4. Inform victims/survivors of their rights and options, and at no point directly or indirectly discourage a victim from making a Title IX or criminal complaint or pursuing criminal charges or campus disciplinary action.
  5. Provide privileged and confidential counseling resources to students.
  6. Work with victim advocates and experts to provide the campus community with training on prevention, intervention, investigation, and response to sexual assaults.

What student victims’ rights are highlighted in the Model MOU?

The Model MOU highlights various rights of student victims/survivors of campus sexual assault, including:

  1. The right to a Sexual Assault Forensic Exam (Rape Kit) at no cost to the victim.
  2. The right to participate or not participate with the local law enforcement agency in pursuit of a criminal investigation.
  3. The right to engage anonymously with law enforcement and participate in an investigation and prosecution using a pseudonym (i.e. Jane or John Doe).
  4. The right to have a support person of the victim/survivor's choosing present at any interview by law enforcement authorities, district attorneys, or defense attorneys.

Do I have to choose between a criminal investigation and campus disciplinary investigation?

No. You have options, and you don’t have to decide right away. You can choose to report a sexual assault to both your campus and to law enforcement, or to one but not the other. Similarly, you can later elect to participate in both a criminal investigation and campus disciplinary proceeding, or decide that you wish to pursue one but not the other. When your campus receives a report of sexual assault, they are required to disclose the crime to local law enforcement. Your campus cannot, however, disclose your identity to local law enforcement without your consent. You also have the right to engage with law enforcement and participate in a criminal investigation and prosecution anonymously, using a pseudonym (i.e. Jane or John Doe).

Who will have access to my report, and does confidentiality change depending on who I report to?

The Model MOU encourages parties to take all reasonable steps to comply with a confidentiality request or to inform victims/survivors when they cannot ensure confidentiality. The Model MOU commits the parties to the following:

  • Communications between victims and Sexual Assault Counselors, Psychotherapists, or Clergy Members, (as defined in the How-To Guide), are both confidential and legally privileged communications.
  • Communications between victims and campus-designated “Confidential Resources” are generally protected from disclosure of personally identifying information except in limited circumstances, including criminal proceedings. If you have questions about the limits of confidentiality when speaking to any campus resource, you should ask that person to clarify what confidentiality protections they can provide before disclosing sensitive information.
  • Communications between victims/survivors and any Responsible Employees on campus who are not designated as Confidential Resources are not confidential and are subject to reporting requirements.

Many of the terms above are defined in the How-To Guide, so we encourage you to take a look for more information. Given the complexity of laws and regulations about confidentiality and privilege, the Model MOU encourages your campus and other parties to develop materials for students listing on- and off-campus resources, including the levels of confidentiality and privilege applicable to each resource.

What are the implications of reporting an instance of sexual assault or violence if I am an undocumented student?

Under the Model MOU, your campus and local law enforcement agencies are encouraged to provide privacy protections to ensure that an individual’s immigration status is protected, whether they are a bystander reporting a crime or a victim/survivor.

Is the Model MOU mandatory for all California campuses?

The Model MOU is intended to help comply with recent changes to California law; complement the work that campuses, law enforcement and community-based organizations are already doing; and where there are preexisting agreements, to serve as a supplement to fill in any remaining gaps. Each campus and local law enforcement agency should adapt the Template MOU and How-To Guide to their own local needs. Local implementation is essential to effectively address the problem of campus sexual assault.

If you’d like your campus to adopt this MOU, reach out to your campus administration, Title IX Officer, or local law enforcement agency to let them know about this Template MOU and How-To Guide.

How does the Model MOU hold campuses accountable?

The Model MOU is available to the public and posted on the Attorney General’s website, and has been distributed to campuses and law enforcement agencies across California. Students may wish to discuss with their campuses the extent to which they have utilized the Model MOU in order to develop and/or improve procedures in response to campus sexual assault.

The Model MOU helps campuses comply with various state and federal laws, including a recent California law that requires California campuses, by July 1, 2015, to have policies in place to ensure that reports of violent crime, hate crime, or sexual assault made to a campus are immediately disclosed to local law enforcement.

How can I file a complaint against my campus for failure to meet its legal obligations to prevent and remedy campus sexual assault and sexual violence?

Under state and federal law, a victim/survivor of sexual harassment or sexual violence or any third party with knowledge of discrimination may file a complaint against a campus for failure to comply with Title IX or state law.

If you believe that your campus has not complied with its obligations under state or federal law in their handling of campus sexual assault and sexual violence, you can file a consumer complaint with the Attorney General’s Public Inquiry Unit .

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights handles all Title IX complaints. Generally, an OCR complaint must be filed within 180 days of the last act of sex-based discrimination, and electronic complaint forms can be found at the U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights .

The U.S. Department of Education is responsible for enforcing the Clery Act. A Clery complaint can be submitted by contacting clery@ed.gov.

If you are interested in speaking with an attorney about an instance of campus sexual assault or violence, you can access a complete list of California Bar-certified lawyers organized by county or by calling: 1-866-44-CA-LAW.