Warning: Contains Strong Language
Following the recent revelation of 19 sexual harassment cases filed against the University that have been kept quiet by UC Berkeley officials until now, sophomore Bernice Chen revealed that she failed to be surprised anymore by the University’s failure to provide an adequate response to sexual harassment cases.
Of those 19 harassment cases reported, 11 staff members have been fired while 3 faculty members still remaining at the university.
Though not currently taught in any UC Berkeley leadership courses, this notion of protecting tenured faculty members who have sexual harassment cases filed against them is currently being referred to as “Cronyism”.
According to Chen, ”When I first heard about the Macy and the Choudry case, I had hoped that they were isolated incidents. But after hearing that the university is investigating 26 new cases, ]I’ve come to realize that the culture of reporting harassment then doing nothing about it is so systemic to UC Berkeley that it might as well be built into fucking Telebears.” [pullquote]I’ve come to realize that the culture of reporting harassment then doing nothing about it is so systemic to UC Berkeley that it might as well be built into fucking Telebears.[/pullquote]
Though UC Berkeley has an Office of Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination, cases filed through the department apparently go through the Department of “Will This Hurt Our Precious Reputation?” before finally moving to the “Empty Promises” Department to gather dust while lives are destroyed and such people with sexual harassment charges filed against them continue to teach at this university.
When asked about UC President Janet Napolitano’s changes to the sexual misconduct policy, Chen responded, “That was the final nail in the coffin, when the administration inadequately responded to outrage over their inadequate responses to sexual harassment. The committee took six months to propose two tiny changes- come on, even Airbears is faster than that. I wish my GSI was as generous with time extensions as Napolitano was with people who violated University policy.”
The culture of toxicity and fear has spread to the students as well. According to Chen, “When my parents first dropped me off at Berkeley, they gave me a bottle of pepper spray and told me to watch out for shady people hanging out around Berkeley. But when they heard that the Law School Dean was harassing his secretary, they sent me a taser and told me to keep it on buzzing during class.
Based on administrative actions from the past decade, It’s almost as if these Professors believe that lecturing students in a button down shirt for 3 hours a day makes them immune to any repercussions from doing morally despicable things. News flash: It doesn’t.
Sexual assault is not a joke, but our administration’s response is. Today is Denim Day- a day of action, to stand up and fight against abusive attitudes and policies surrounding sexual assault (visit denimdayinfo.org for more information). Sexual violence is never acceptable, and neither is excusing it, hiding it, or pretending it doesn’t exist.
If you have experienced sexual harassment or assault, the Confidential Care Advocates are a great resource here at Berkeley that can guide you through whatever path you take and whatever resources you need, while keeping your story strictly private. Their phone number is (510) 642-1988. And to any UC officials who may be reading this: when you’re talking about the safety, well being, and livelihoods of your students and employees, we shouldn’t have to tell you to do your fucking job.