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Chancellor responds to task force report

UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks and Robert Powell, chair of the Berkeley Division of the Academic Senate, sent this message today to the campus community:

Dear campus community,

We are writing to respond to the report issued by the chancellor’s joint Senate/Administration Committee on Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment and to affirm our commitment to creating a safe learning environment for all members of the university community. We first want to thank all members of the committee for their extraordinary service. We are also appreciative of the continued and exemplary service of the committee co-chair and our first interim special advisor to the chancellor, Executive Dean Carla Hesse. We are grateful to all the students, staff, and faculty who met with the committee, as well as those who responded to the report during the public comment period. Finally, we wish to acknowledge the dedication and continued great work of the students, staff, and faculty who planned an extensive calendar of events for Sexual Assault Awareness Month and who lead our campus’ education, care, and reporting efforts on an ongoing basis.

Sexual violence and sexual harassment violate the law and UC policy. As a campus and as a system, we are making changes to improve our policies and practices to enhance our response and prevention efforts. The committee’s report provides us with thoughtful recommendations and powerful insights that will be instrumental to our continuous improvement efforts. While we are unable to respond to every comment and recommendation in the committee’s report at this time, we write to provide the following updates and summary of our immediate next steps:

  • Commitment to sustained funding. The administration previously committed to one time funding of $3m to support our efforts in combatting sexual harassment and sexual violence; and we are committed to the continuation of this level of funding on an annual basis.
  • Improved strategy and coordination. We are in the process of recruiting a special faculty advisor to the chancellor on sexual harassment/sexual violence, who will work closely with our campus and system-wide Title IX officers in coordinating, monitoring, and communicating our efforts in this area. In addition, the new special faculty advisor will collaborate with the Academic Senate as well as prevention practitioners to explore appropriate ways of expanding education opportunities for students to understand the sources, dynamics, and impact of sexual abuse.
  • Transparent monitoring and accountability. In order to ensure ongoing and transparent monitoring of the campus response to and prevention of sexual harassment and violence, the special faculty advisor, in collaboration with the Title IX officer, will develop an annual report on campus sexual violence and sexual harassment progress and will establish mechanisms for regularly engaging with students, staff, and faculty to solicit their guidance on and support for the effort to address this issue.
  • Commitment to survivor care. We are committed to providing support and resources for enhanced survivor care, including the PATH to Care Center, which provides confidential support and advocacy for students, staff, and faculty that have experienced sexual violence or sexual harassment. This includes ensuring that, regardless of a decision to report a personal incident, survivors have ready access to confidential resources.
  • Streamlined investigation and consultation processes. Consistent with the report and system-wide recommendations made by the UC Office of the President (UCOP), we are:
    • Streamlining the reporting and investigation process in support of the principle that multiple investigations should be avoided when possible.
    • Convening a peer review committee to review disciplinary decisions for faculty members found in violation of the UC Policy on Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment. The details of the peer review committee are being considered in consultation with UCOP to ensure consistency across UC campuses.
  • Expanded fundraising for key resources including survivor support. We are actively strengthening our fundraising efforts, including establishing a fund that will provide key resources and supplement existing emergency funds for survivors, and have already received interest and some funding from alumni donors for this effort, including securing funding to launch an independent survey designed to understand the prevalence of SVSH incidents and to further inform our efforts.
  • Improved training for all members of the community. We continue to strengthen our training and awareness efforts, conducting annual training of all students and employees. Additionally, the chancellor’s cabinet, the Council of Deans, department chairs, chief administrative officers, and organized research unit leads have gone through in-person training on SVSH since Fall 2016 (about 150 people total).

Again, the report provides us with important recommendations that will guide our work. Our special faculty advisory in partnership with our Title IX Officer and campus practitioners will conduct further consultation to assess each recommendation in detail. However, our campus’ current and future leadership is committed to continuing to engage with our broader community to make the cultural and procedural changes necessary to create a safer and more supportive campus environment.

Sexual harassment and sexual violence cannot be tolerated on our campus under any circumstances. We hereby reaffirm our commitment to doing the work necessary to realize this goal.

Sincerely,

Nicholas Dirks
Chancellor

Robert Powell
Chair, Berkeley Division of the Academic Senate