UC Berkeley conducting 3 times as many sex misconduct investigations as UC Davis

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UC Berkeley’s Title IX office is investigating more than twice the number of sexual misconduct claims as UC Davis and UC Merced combined, and three times as many complaints as UC Davis alone.

As of this week, UC Davis — with about 58,000 staff, faculty and students, compared with UC Berkeley’s approximately 61,000 — is investigating two claims of sexual harassment and five claims of sexual violence, according to its Compliance and Policy office, said UC Davis spokesperson Karen Nikos-Rose.

UC Merced, with a campus population of about 8,200, is looking into a total of four complaints of sexual misconduct. UC Merced spokesperson Brenda Ortiz was unable to specify the type of misconduct in the four open investigations.

At UC Berkeley, the Office for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination is investigating 17 complaints of sexual harassment and nine complaints of sexual violence, totaling 26 sexual misconduct investigations as of late March.

“It is all but impossible to know what the facts are, what the primary drivers are of those numbers,” said UC Berkeley spokesperson Dan Mogulof. “At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter, because one case is too many, because one investigation that is mishandled is too many.”

The UC Office of the President does not maintain records of all ongoing sexual misconduct investigations within the UC system, according to UC spokesperson Dianne Klein.

“Title IX offices on campuses have different reporting structures,” Klein said in an email. “Records are kept in different places.”

While individual campuses were initially responsible for procuring and distributing data regarding the number of ongoing investigations, UCOP decided to begin centralizing the collection of information internally last week.

UC Irvine spokesperson Cathy Lawhon said the campus is investigating one sexual assault complaints. When Lawhon looked into the number of ongoing sexual harassment investigations, she said, “shortly after is when I found out that the Office of the President wanted to be the coordination point on all these requests.”

Requests regarding the number of ongoing sexual misconduct investigations at other UC campuses — including UC Riverside, UCLA and UC Santa Cruz — as well as the number of sexual harassment investigations at UC Irvine, are pending because of UCOP’s process of centralizing the data.

UC Student Association President Kevin Sabo said he is alarmed by the disparity in the number of cases being investigated at UC Davis and UC Berkeley, respectively.

“It just seems to be that (Chancellor Nicholas Dirks) is not bothered by the frequency or severity of these cases on campus,” Sabo said.

The numbers, said ASUC Davis Senator Georgia Savage, speak to a larger systemwide problem of sexual misconduct claims being underreported.

“With Berkeley being such a public case, and from being in the public eye, that could lead to more (students) reporting, because there will be consequences,” Savage said.

Last week, Dirks announced a new committee on sexual misconduct, which will offer recommended improvements to all UC Berkeley services and polices related to sexual violence and harassment. The committee is part of a series of reforms in light of a slew of high-profile campus sexual misconduct cases.

Contact Austin Weinstein and Brenna Smith at [email protected].

Correction(s):
A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that UC Irvine has four ongoing sexual assault complaint investigations ongoing at UC Irvine. In fact, there is only one such investigation.