When the campus announced last week that it would be allocating $2.5 million to improve its response to sexual harassment and assault, it felt like a reaction rather than a solution. At best, it’s a small Band-Aid on a large wound, at worst, it’s simply a plan to protect the campus from legal trouble.
Though dedicating more resources to University Health Services will undoubtedly be helpful in some capacity, the timing of this investment remains suspect. The investment has only come after months of the campus’s sexual harassment scandals being made known to the public. It calls into question why the campus didn’t see this as a worthy use of $2.5 million when administrators were first made aware of the onslaught of sexual harassment claims against faculty members.
Part of the problem with this announcement is the now customary use of overly vague buzzwords. Earlier this semester, the campus announced its dedication to “transparency” when dealing with sexual harassment. Similarly, the words used regarding the recent announcement — “prevention,” “expansion” and “more resources” — are essentially meaningless when they aren’t paired with open and specific plans.
As the number of reported cases increases, it’s important that resources be expanded to meet that need. The way in which the administration allocates those resources, however, is more important than the amount of money it throws at the problem. If the campus simply increases bureaucracy surrounding an issue without taking the time to strategize properly, it’s only slowing real change.
Following a 2013 instance when nine students filed complaints alleging the campus discouraged sexual assault survivors from reporting incidents to local authorities, the campus reacted in a similar fashion. It hired an additional Title IX investigator and established an administrative committee to advise departments such as the Title IX office. In fact, UC Berkeley has increased Title IX spending by at least $2 million since 2013, according to the New York Times.
It’s clear that this spending has done little to mitigate the problem of gender discrimination and sexual misconduct on campus. If administrators couldn’t effectively use the money invested in Title IX, it’s only reasonable that we should distrust their ability to use another $2.5 million effectively.
Investment is inarguably overdue, but investment doesn’t necessarily mean cutting a check. Instead of trying to quell problems under well-publicized piles of money when subject to public scrutiny, the campus should make these kinds of investments regularly and without provocation.
Proactive change is different and better than reactive change. Our campus needs to make regular, significant investments toward meaningful solutions — not only when UC Berkeley receives bad press.
Editorials represent the collective opinion of the Senior Editorial Board as written by the opinion editor.