Dear Campus Community,
We write to you today to follow up on last week’s message about our collective work to prevent and address sexual harassment, assault, and violence on the UC Berkeley campus.
In the last two weeks, we have met with survivors, faculty, staff, students, alumni, and community leaders. We are grateful for their forthright comments, honest feedback, and constructive suggestions. And, we have heard the salient message: there is much work to be done. We take our responsibility here seriously, and we intend to have Berkeley lead in this area, as it has in so many others.
The painful stories and helpful recommendations we have heard over the last two weeks will inform the necessary steps our community needs to take in order to heal, learn, and move forward. We have an obligation to promote a campus culture in which sexual harassment, sexual violence, stalking and any abuse of power are neither tolerated nor ignored, but proactively prevented. We are committed to ensuring that Berkeley is a welcoming, safe, respectful, and inclusive community for every one of our students, staff, faculty, and visitors.
We are making immediate investments in prevention initiatives that go beyond the required training. The Confidential CARE Advocacy and Prevention Program will develop a comprehensive, evidence-based prevention plan with the goal of addressing campus climate issues in systematic ways. Additional initiatives will be implemented as early as this summer and will target our entire campus community — students, staff, and faculty. The prevention initiatives will include more comprehensive education programs. Each member of our campus community must have clarity about their own responsibility to prevent and report harassment and violence, as well as about how to effectively intervene and provide support where possible.
For example, we will immediately begin to work with our faculty, staff, and students to organize a half-day campuswide event targeted for early fall which will include a series of teach-ins, seminars and other learning and awareness activities. We will also provide significantly more resources to support interactive and performance-based learning activities, as well as develop new experiential learning programs designed specifically to help all members of our community identify, confront, and stop abuses of power, including sexual harassment.
Crucial in these endeavors will be continued engagement with the Coordinated Community Review Team (CCRT), a cross-section of campus and community constituents, to guide the campus in preventing and responding to sexual harassment and violence at a campus level.
As this work develops, we want to take this opportunity to encourage each member of our community to attend and participate in Sexual Assault Awareness Month events, including Take Back the Night on April 6.
Timely Response to Complaints
Effective immediately, we are providing additional resources to the Office for Prevention of Discrimination and Harassment (OPHD), with the intention of reducing the length of time for case resolutions. Reducing investigation timelines will help bring closure to these cases more swiftly for all involved, including complainants and respondents. It will also enable us to do a better job of collecting and analyzing data on reporting and response, which will allow the campus to continuously improve our administrative systems, and inform our prevention efforts.
Support and Care for Survivors
Effective immediately, we are also authorizing additional resources to the Confidential CARE Advocates, University Health Services Social Services, and the Gender Equity Resource Center to ensure that survivors of sexual harassment and violence are able to quickly access advocacy, mental health providers, and community resources. It is essential that every member of our community seeking care experience the full support of our community. We will not compromise our efforts to ensure that Berkeley represents a learning and work environment in which survivors are fully supported and empowered.
We have already begun working with the Academic Senate leadership to define and implement a campus-based review process that extends the idea behind President Janet Napolitano’s peer review panel announcement further across the Berkeley campus — thereby improving our own disciplinary procedures and ensuring accountability at every level of faculty, administrative, and staff responsibility. The result will be a review board designed to ensure that sanctions for those found to have violated SVSH policy are dealt with in a firm and consistent manner, regardless of the rank or position of either the complainant or respondent.
We will soon name a senior leader, whose charge will be to coordinate our efforts across the campus, to communicate with the larger community about our progress on each of these fronts. We are committed to personal accountability and transparency and will continue to support the staff charged with helping us all prevent, address, and sanction any violations of our policy.
As these immediate actions unfold, we will establish a Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment Task Force in April, which will engage members of our faculty, staff, students, alumni, and outside experts in these areas who will do an independent assessment of our culture, process and sanctions with a draft summary report due to us by July. This group will draw upon the deep expertise already in place at Berkeley and advance our work in the areas of best practices across all areas. We have already been working with our key faculty and alumni, who are national experts in this area and have graciously offered assistance. We expect to announce more details in the next few weeks.
Nicholas Dirks, Chancellor
Claude Steele, Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost