CSU Systemwide Title IX and DHR Assessment FAQs

1. What is Title IX?

Title IX refers to a federal civil rights law that was enacted as part of the Education Amendments of 1972. It prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any educational institution that receives funding from the federal government. Recipients of federal funding must not discriminate on the basis of sex in any of their educational programs or activities and must take action to respond to reports of sex discrimination. Sex discrimination includes discrimination or harassment on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression, as well as sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking. California law also prohibits sex-based discrimination in schools and in the workplace.

Under Title IX and related federal and state laws, schools must have a Title IX Coordinator, a notice of non-discrimination, and prompt and equitable grievance policies and procedures to respond to reports of discrimination and harassment that occur within the education program or activity.

Each CSU institution has a Title IX Coordinator who oversees the university’s response to reports of sex discrimination. The Title IX Coordinator ensures that individuals who make a report are provided with information about supportive measures and the option to file a formal complaint. The CSU has also appointed a dedicated systemwide Title IX Compliance Officer to actively address issues related to sex discrimination and sexual violence. Further information about Title IX at the CSU can be found here

Additionally, every CSU campus is required to have a dedicated Victim/Survivor Advocate to provide support to students, staff and faculty.

2. What is DHR?

DHR stands for “Discrimination, Harassment and Retaliation.”

CSU’s Nondiscrimin​ation Policyaddresses Title IX prohibited conduct, Sexual Misconduct, Sexual Exploitation, and sexual harassment, and DHR prohibited conduct, including discrimination based on other protected statuses defined by federal and California law including, Age, Disability (physical and mental), Genetic Information, Marital Status, Medical Condition, Nationality, Race or Ethnicity (including color, caste, or ancestry), Religion (or religious creed) and Veteran or Military Status. These capitalized terms are defined in CSU’s Nondiscrimination Policy. CSU’s Nondiscrimination Policy also prohibits retaliation for exercising one’s rights under the policy, including opposing conduct that one believes in good faith is discrimination or harassment because of a protected status, or for participating, in any manner, in any related investigation or hearing.

Each CSU institution has a DHR Administrator who ensures that individuals who report discrimination, harassment, and retaliation are provided with information about resources, reporting options, and process steps. At some CSU campuses, the Title IX Coordinator and the DHR Administrator are the same person; on other campuses, they are different personnel.

3. Why has the CSU hired external professionals to assess its Title IX and DHR programs?

Recent events at many of our campuses, as well as at colleges and universities across the country, have underscored the importance and difficulty of insulating our communities from harassment and discrimination. Although we may not be able to completely eradicate harassment and discrimination in all its forms, we can and do take steps to prevent and respond to discrimination and harassment on our campuses through prevention and education programs, resources and supports, and individual and community remedies designed to promote accountability in the context of an equitable process. As we evaluate the effectiveness of existing programs and resources and consider how to best communicate our values and expectations, we believe it is important to engage professionals with experience building and improving Title IX and DHR programs at schools across the country. Cozen O’Connor is taking a holistic approach that looks at CSU’s implementation of Title IX and DHR antidiscrimination policies and practices, including prevention, reporting, response and support. The goal of the assessment is to strengthen the CSU institutional culture by assessing current practices and providing insights, recommendations, and resources to advance CSU's Title IX and DHR training, awareness, prevention, intervention, compliance and support systems.

4. Why Cozen O’Connor?

Cozen O’Connor’s Institutional Response Group is the nation’s first practice dedicated to improving institutional responses to sexual and gender-based harassment, violence, child abuse, criminal conduct, workplace misconduct, and other forms of discrimination, harassment, and bias. Cozen O’Connor’s approach integrates a nuanced understanding of the legal and regulatory framework; the dynamics of trauma, discrimination, harassment and retaliation; and, each individual campus’s policies, procedures, structures, personnel, culture and climate. Each member of Cozen O’Connor’s diverse team is an experienced professional who works with colleges and universities across the country, helping to build effective Title IX and DHR programs that seek to meet the needs of students, staff and faculty. Cozen O’Connor has earned a reputation in the field for providing candid, direct feedback and we have asked them to do the same here.

We believe that Cozen O’Connor’s knowledge, skills, fluency and expertise will help us improve and evolve our practices in an effective, efficient and informed manner.

5. How does this work intersect with the state’s audit?

CSU’s Board of Trustees (BOT) retained Cozen O’Connor’s Institutional Response Group in March 2022 to conduct a systemwide assessment of the university’s implementation of its Title IX and other antidiscrimination programs. Cozen O’Connor’s assessment is broader than the state audit and encompasses all 23 campuses as well as the Chancellor’s Office.

In late April 2022, the Joint Legislative Audit Committee (JLAC) of the state legislature recommended that the California State Auditor (CSA) audit the CSU Systems’ handling of sexual harassment complaints involving executives/faculty/staff at the CO and three campuses: Fresno State, SJSU (San José State University), and SSU (Sonoma State University). More information about the state audit process can be found at: https://www.auditor.ca.gov/.

We will fully cooperate with the JLAC’s audit, but also continue with our own Title IX/DHR assessment to ensure that we are taking all steps to promote a campus free from discrimination and harassment, to strengthen our Title IX and DHR programs, and to be responsive to the needs of our community.

6. How is Cozen O’Connor conducting its assessment?

The goal of Cozen O’Connor’s assessment is to help CSU improve its Title IX and DHR programs with the ultimate goal of strengthening campus culture for all community members, whether in classrooms, residence halls, athletics fields, workplaces, or elsewhere. Compliance with the law and university policy are important, but compliance is a small part of what it takes to improve an institution’s culture and climate. For these reasons, Cozen O’Connor’s assessment begins with a review of each institution’s written policies, procedures, written resources, and other materials to assess and understand the institution’s response to Title IX and DHR concerns. This phase is followed by Cozen O’Connor conducting a campus visit (in person or virtually, according to campus preference and COVID protocols) to meet with staff, faculty and students who intersect most directly with Title IX and DHR responses on campus. Cozen O’Connor generally conducts interviews with:

  • Employees who work in the antidiscrimination space including those who provide training, counseling and support; administer and investigate grievances; resolve conflicts and impose disciplinary or other responsive measures;
  • Leaders of student groups, cultural centers, and other affinity groups;
  • Faculty, students and staff who wish to provide input about their experiences or observations.

A sample schedule of the campus visit is available on this website. The Cozen O’Connor team will seek feedback from members of the campus community through a variety of means including group interviews, individual interviews, listening sessions, via email to [email protected], and through a survey which will be shared with all students, faculty and staff later this fall. The Cozen O’Connor team typically conducts additional meetings with groups or individuals virtually or in person after the campus visit.

Some campus visits occurred during the summer months in 2022, when students and faculty were less readily available. Cozen O’Connor worked with campuses whose visits had already occurred to provide additional opportunities for student, staff and faculty engagement.

Cozen O’Connor’s approach prioritizes and elevates the perspectives of campus constituents in a de-identified and aggregated way. All information shared with Cozen O’Connor will be maintained as private by Cozen O’Connor and will not be shared with campus or CSU leaders with personal attribution. Instead, Cozen O’Connor will seek to identify aggregate themes about strengths and challenges on the campus and systemwide levels.

The feedback that the Cozen O’Connor team receives from members of the university community (including faculty, administrators, students and staff) will not be shared with CSU presidents, Chancellor’s Office executives or other administrators in a way that personally identifies the source of the information.

7. What specific issues is Cozen O’Connor reviewing?

The systemwide review and assessment process is a comprehensive approach designed to review and assess implementation of systemwide CSU policies and procedures, infrastructure, the coordination of information and personnel, communications, record keeping and data management, and all other aspects of effective and legally compliant responses to sexual and gender-based harassment and violence, protected class discrimination and harassment and other forms of misconduct by students and employees.

Their work will evaluate strengths, challenges and resources at each individual institution, as well as assess systemwide opportunities for coordination, alignment, oversight and efficiency. The review will include the assessment of:

  • Infrastructure and resources at CSU campus and systemwide Title IX and DHR offices.
  • Training, education, and prevention programming for students, staff, faculty and Board members at each campus and at the Chancellor’s Office.
  • The availability of confidential or other resources dedicated to supporting complainants, respondents and witnesses.
  • The life span of a Title IX and DHR report, from intake to resolution, including:
    • Intake, outreach and support protocols
    • Case management systems and protocols
    • Staffing and models for investigations, hearings, sanctioning/discipline, grievance, and appeal processes
    • Investigative and hearing protocols
    • Inter-departmental campus collaboration, information sharing, and coordination in individual cases and strategic initiatives
    • Document and data management protocols
    • Timeliness of case resolution, and factors impacting timely resolution
    • Informal resolution processes
    • Protocols for responding to reports of misconduct by students or employees that do not rise to the level of a policy violation
  • Campus culture and climate regarding Title IX and DHR issues; and
  • Support and resources offered to campus Title IX and DHR staff by the CSU’s systemwide Title IX and DHR staff at the Chancellor’s Office.

8. When and how can I watch the presentation Cozen O'Connor delivered during the May 2023 Board of Trustees meeting?

On Wednesday, May 24, 2023, at the May 2023 board of trustees meeting, Cozen O'Connor presented a high-level oral report of observations and recommendations at an open session attended by trustees, university leaders, and other stakeholders.  The presentation was livestreamed and available to all members of the university community, as well as the public.  A recording of the oral presentation is available here.  A PDF of the PowerPoint presentation is available here.

9. Will Cozen O'Connor prepare a written report?

Yes. Cozen O'Connor is preparing a written report for each of the 23 campuses, as well as a systemwide report, which we expect to receive in June.  The Chancellor's Office will share the written reports publicly.

10. What are the roles of the various members of the Implementation Team on each campus?

Each campus president has formed an Implementation Team to support the implementation of Cozen O'Connor's recommendations on their campuses. The Implementation Teams include a member of the president's cabinet (or other high-level administrator), the Title IX Coordinator, the DHR Administrator, and one or more of each of the following: at least one staff member; at least one faculty member, including a representative of the faculty senate; and at least one student, including a member of student leadership.

The Implementation Team should be chaired or co-chaired by the Title IX Coordinator. The campus Title IX Coordinator and DHR Administrator will be responsible for designing and planning the steps necessary to implement the recommendations, with assistance from the Cozen O'Connor team and the CO Title IX/DHR team.

The roles of the other campus Implementation Team members are:

  • to bring forward the perspective of the campus community stakeholders they represent;
  • to help facilitate and support the implementation of this plan in a manner that is consistent with agreed-upon timelines, the goals of the assessment, and campus culture;
  • to engage with, and seek input from, other campus stakeholders who are involved in providing Title IX and other antidiscrimination-related services and programming or who otherwise have relevant subject matter expertise.  For example, if the campus confidential advocate is not a member of the Implementation Team, it is expected that the Implementation Team will consult with the advocate as appropriate; and
  • to drive informed and collaborative communications to all stakeholders on implementation efforts.

The Implementation Team will also be expected to help develop a formal communications plan designed to keep the campus community apprised about the implementation process and status.  We expect Implementation Team members to review communications to ensure that they are clear, accessible, and address the needs of the community stakeholders they represent.

University counsel, whether they are designated as a member of the Implementation Team or not,  are an important legal resource. They are available to provide training on certain legal subjects and provide assistance and advice to the Title IX Coordinator and DHR Administrator on potential legal issues that may arise. They should also be called on to provide advice on review of documents, policy, templates, etc.

11. May campuses add members to their Implementation Teams once they have had the opportunity to review Cozen O'Connor's recommendations?

When the campuses receive the Cozen O'Connor recommendations, presidents may consider the addition of other members to the campus Implementation Team who can assist with the implementation objectives (keeping in mind the importance of an efficient working group).

Implementation Teams may also invite guests including other campus stakeholders to attend meetings to provide subject-matter expertise, assistance with the efficient execution of implementation efforts, or other important input.

Since it is expected that aspects of implementation may take a significant period of time, it is possible that Implementation Team membership may change over time.

12. Will the campus Implementation Teams receive a directive or formal “charge" for their work – and from whom?

Yes.  The Chancellor's Office will send a written charge to the campus Implementation Teams to provide direction regarding the purpose and scope of their work.  The Chancellor's Office will prepare and send those directions to the campus Implementation Teams in conjunction with the release of Cozen O'Connor's written reports for each campus.

13. When will the meetings between Cozen O'Connor and the Implementation Teams take place?

To encourage and facilitate participation of all members of the Implementation Teams, each campus Implementation Team will be able to choose whether to begin their meetings with Cozen O'Connor in July, August or September 2023.  We have asked each Implementation Team chair to coordinate with their members to determine whether their members are available to meet over the summer.  We understand that some team members may not be available over the summer break.  Those members of the Implementation Team who are not available over the summer should advise their team chairs, so that the chairs can take steps to ensure that all members are kept apprised of the status of the work during their absence.  Along with Cozen O'Connor, a member of the CO Title IX/DHR team will also meet with each campus Implementation Team to discuss the systemwide recommendations, and Cozen O'Connor's observations, recommendations and next steps with respect to that campus. 

14. Will the Implementation Teams be working exclusively on recommendations from Cozen O'Connor, or will they also work on recommendations from the California State Auditor?

At this time, the Implementation Teams will be tasked with reviewing and working on the recommendations from Cozen O'Connor. If appropriate, the Chancellor's Office will amend the formal charge after the California State Auditor releases its report this summer.

15. How will the Chancellor's Office support the campus Implementation Teams and implementation of the Cozen O'Connor recommendations?

The CO will provide support for campus Implementation Teams in a variety of ways, including:

  • A CO representative will attend each of the meetings with Cozen O'Connor and campus Implementation Teams.
  • The CO will serve as a repository for campus plans, timelines, progress reports and other relevant campus information.
  • Over the summer, the CO will offer a workshop for Implementation Team chairs to provide tips and resources on facilitating the work of the Implementation Team and the implementation plan.
  • The CO will coordinate and oversee systemwide recommendations from Cozen O'Connor that are relevant to campus plans.
  • The CO will review the California State Auditor recommendations to assess their relevance to the work of the campus Implementation Teams and update the Implementation Teams' charge, if necessary.
  • The CO will assist campuses with developing a communication plan.

16. How can I give feedback to Cozen O’Connor?

Cozen O'Connor has collected feedback from both individuals and groups at all 23 California State universities and the Chancellor's Office.

This included multiple methods, where confidential and/or anonymous information was submitted and collected from the CSU community, including: 

  • Dedicated email to Cozen O’Connor at [email protected].
  • Individual campus surveys that were launched in January 2023.
  • In-person campus visits to all 23 campuses and the Chancellor's Office.


The [email protected] email and the upcoming survey are NOT meant to serve as a mechanism for reporting discrimination, harassment, and retaliation, request supportive measures or an investigation response under CSU Title IX and DHR policies.

To report an incident of discrimination, harassment or retaliation, including sexual or gender-based harassment or violence, dating violence, domestic violence, sexual exploitation and/or stalking, please contact the Title IX Coordinator and/or DHR Administrator on your campus.

If you aren’t sure you want to make a report and/or would like to learn more about options and support available to you, you may wish to talk to someone with the legal privilege of confidentiality, such as the advocate on your campus, counseling and psychological services for students on your campus or your Employee Assistance Program.