ASUC Senate discusses campus response to sex harassment, intimate partner violence comission

Audrey McNamara/Senior Staff

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At the ASUC Senate’s regular meeting Wednesday, UC Berkeley administrators addressed developments in the campus’s approach to sexual violence and harassment cases, and the senate took steps toward the creation of an ASUC Intimate Partner Violence Commission.

Associate Chancellor Nils Gilman spoke at the meeting about the measures taken to educate the campus’s senior leadership about sexual violence and harassment, which includes a listening tour led by Carla Hesse, interim lead of the campus’s sexual harassment response. Additionally, Gilman said the campus is trying to create a committee in search of a permanent Title IX officer on these issues by next week and is working to potentially establish a review panel that will oversee all sexual misconduct cases.

Student Action Senator Miranda Hernandez raised concerns to Gilman at the meeting about transparency in the process of punishing those who have been found responsible of sexual misconduct. In response, Gilman clarified the campus’s policies on its disclosure of sexual misconduct and assault cases.

“If there is a positive finding, we are not expected to publicize that, but the complainant will know about that and often goes to the press or social media in order to relay their views on the matter,” Gilman said. “And, of course, that’s their right, but we’re not there first.”

Gilman added that the campus had evolved in its views and that some actions that were previously tolerated are now considered grounds for termination.

Later in the meeting, the senate moved a resolution to establish an ASUC Intimate Partner Violence Commission forward to be discussed in the Governance and Internal Affairs Committee.

The resolution is being cosponsored by the two co-directors of the UC Berkeley Intimate Partner Violence Coalition Ana Mancia and Marisa McConnell. Mancia and McConnell agreed that intimate partner violence should not be grouped within the ASUC’s sexual assault commission because of the different needs and circumstances of the victims.

“Sexual assault and domestic violence do overlap, but they require separate resources because they are separate issues,” McConnell said.

McConnell emphasized that while a significant amount of sexual assaults are perpetrated by an intimate partner, there are also many different types of intimate partner violence which are not sexual assault, such as emotional or verbal abuse.

Academics Affairs Vice President Frances McGinley said she has been pushing for this sort of commission since the beginning of her term and that it has gathered widespread support.  She added that she expects it to pass in the committee.

“It’s been sponsored by multiple people. … I’d be very, very surprised if any contentions arose around this bill because I’ve been pushing for it for a long time,” McGinley said. “If folks had issues with it, they’d have come to me already.”

Contact Sakura Cannestra at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @SakuCannestra.