UC Berkeley reviews policies surrounding sexual harassment investigation

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Following the dismissal of assistant Cal men’s basketball coach Yann Hufnagel in light of his violation of UC sexual harassment policy, UC Berkeley’s Office for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination, or OPHD, released a redacted review Monday that it conducted regarding the actions taken by the athletics department in wake of the incident.

A previous report surrounding the investigation into sexual harassment allegations against Hufnagel was issued on March 12. Details of the report concluded that Hufnagel had violated the UC sexual harassment policy by allegedly harassing a female reporter during the course of their professional relationship.

The management review aimed to examine the timeline of the sexual harassment claims filed against Hufnagel, as well as to determine whether the responsible campus employees took appropriate action to address the complaint. According to campus spokesperson Claire Holmes, the responsible employees carried out the required actions.

“The review found that once the Campus was put on notice there was a potential violation of UC sexual harassment policies, Athletics Department employees responded appropriately and promptly to the complaint in alignment with UC policy requirements,” Holmes said in an email.

Title IX Officer Denise Oldham and Complaint Resolution Officer Elizabeth Rome conducted the review and collected information about the case by interviewing Intercollegiate Athletics Department employees and reviewing related documents, including copies of electronic messages. Based on this information, they concluded that employees who received written complaints of sexual harassment had notified their supervisors appropriately.

The management review also supported the recommendation that the Intercollegiate Athletics staff works alongside OPHD to create further instructional opportunities for employees so that they can be aware of their obligations to respond to cases of sexual harassment according to UC policy guidelines. In alignment with this recommendation, Holmes stated that along with ongoing training efforts, the athletic department plans to carry out in-person training for head and assistant coaches over the summer.

“We are always mindful to not only investigate a claim of harassment or violence, but also to determine if the policies, procedures and processes were appropriately followed,” said Holmes.

According to UC Berkeley Student Advocate Selina Lao, UC-wide policies mandate responsible employees to report any claims of sexual harassment received. Under the current UC Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment Policy, any employees who are not confidential resources —  such as CARE advocates and licensed student counselors —  and receive information of sexual harassment must promptly report it to the Title IX officer.

“It’s helpful and useful for employees to know what their status is,” Lao said.

Reports obtained by The Daily Californian in March present evidence that 19 UC Berkeley employees were found to have violated university sexual misconduct policy since 2011. Lao acknowledged that while there have been many barriers to reporting incidents of sexual harassment at UC Berkeley, especially in regards to survivor care, the campus is taking steps toward resolving the problem.

“I do think that they are making an effort and recognizing that this is an important issue,” Lao said. “They need to continue to contribute resources to survivor care and making the reporting process more trauma-informed.”

Contact Shanzeh Khurram at [email protected].