Responding to a California Public Records Act request from KQED and other media outlets, the University of California today released more than 100 records detailing the final reports about complaints of sexual harassment, assault and violence on 10 UC campuses that the university found to be true.
The 113 reports span a nearly 3½-year period between January 2013 and April 2016.
According to a summary provided by the university, three-quarters of the cases involved complaints made against university staff, and one-quarter involved faculty. More than half of the complaints were made by staff, while 35 percent were made by students.
The allegations include a wide range of misconduct, from inappropriate verbal remarks to stalking and groping. Seven percent of the cases, according to UC, involved sexual assault, including touching of intimate body parts.
The university also adds that approximately two-thirds of the accused no longer work for the UC system.
Among the cases detailed in the hundreds of pages released by the universities:
- A UC Santa Cruz professor, who has since resigned, was found to have sexually assaulted a student who says she was drunk and “blacked out.”
- An academic adviser at UC Irvine was found to have masturbated in front of students, exposed himself to a student who was a minor and sent sexually suggestive texts to students.
- A UC Merced professor was found to have hosted “wild” parties for students where he would dance provocatively with students and generally make inappropriate and unwelcome advances toward female students under his supervision.
- A UC San Diego janitor was fired after he was found to have stalked a woman, including repeatedly following her into a bathroom and approaching her with unzipped pants.
For years, the UC campuses, especially UC Berkeley, have been criticized for slow response to charges of sexual harassment, abuse or violence. Last year, public outrage reached an apex over the handling of cases at UC Berkeley involving an assistant basketball coach, then-Vice Chancellor Graham Fleming, astronomer Geoffrey Marcy, and Sujit Choudhry when he was dean of the law school. In each case, the university seemed to handle the employees with deference and light punishment.
Despite findings of serial sexual wrongdoing, Choudhry’s penalty was a 10 percent cut to his $415,000 salary and a required apology to an assistant, which many regarded as lax.
After an investigation found that Fleming “more likely than not” inappropriately touched and kissed a former employee, he resigned. But UC Chancellor Nicholas Dirks later named Fleming an international ambassador for Berkeley’s planned Global Campus in Richmond, with a salary and stipend totaling nearly $300,000.
Last March, UC President Janet Napolitano revoked Fleming’s appointment and announced changes to the university’s sexual harassment and violence policies and procedures. In an April 2016 letter to members of a review committee she had appointed, Napolitano announced steps she was taking to strengthen UC’s procedures and policies regarding cases of sexual harassment and sexual violence.
“Our goals should be threefold,” she wrote. “Foster a culture of safety and respect on all our campuses; provide clarity, fairness, and timeliness when investigations are undertaken; and ensure that any sanctions are commensurate with the seriousness of substantiated complaints.”
The federal government put a spotlight on sexual harassment and violence at colleges and universities in 2011, when the U.S. Department of Education advised schools to use the power of Title IX to prevent, investigate and resolve cases like these. (Title IX prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any education program receiving federal financial assistance.)
Today’s release of 113 Title IX cases is part of the university’s effort to send the message that charges like these will be taken more seriously going forward.
Another part of that plan is Napolitano’s hiring of a new Title IX coordinator for the entire university. Recently, the entire UC system turned to UCLA’s Title IX coordinator, Kathleen Salvaty, to fill that position.
“The president’s creation of this position demonstrates her commitment,” Salvaty told KQED. She added that her first priority is to ensure that there is a “coherent, fair and appropriate program systemwide” to prevent and respond to sexual harassment, bias and violence. The impetus, she says, is coming from the bottom up.
“The students, to their credit, have demanded that the universities do better in this,” Salvaty said. “That was much of the driving for why the universities thought we need to do better. Because the students demanded it.”
Salvaty, who has been on the job less than a month, said there’s a lot at stake in getting this right.
“Such a core part of the UC mission is about affording access to education,” Salvaty said. “That’s what’s at stake – ensuring that our students and our employees can access their education free from discrimination, which includes sexual violence and sexual harassment.”