In a report released Jan. 31, the Chancellor’s Senate/Administration Committee on Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment recommended improving sexual assault education and data collection in an effort to reduce sexual assault on campus.
These recommendations include requiring all undergraduates to take a one-unit course on social ethics and well-being, streamlining the investigation process and improving data collection by keeping all records in one place. The report also encourages revising or eliminating the three-year rule, which prohibits faculty from receiving punishment if a claim of sexual assault is filed against them over three years after the incident took place.
In the report, the committee emphasizes the need for immediate and holistic response from campus to complaints of sexual aggression, stating that the “health and well being of our community … demand more.”
“If UC Berkeley is to make good on its promises of inclusion and equal opportunity it needs to do everything in its power to eliminate these forms of abuse of power and to mitigate the inequalities that enable them,” the report said. “We therefore have an obligation to create and maintain an environment in which sexual violence and sexual harassment are contrary to the shared norms of the community.”
According to committee co-chair Carla Hesse, the report has been in the works since May 2016. The committee, formed in April 2016, was created to review campus services and provide recommendations to improve resources for sexual assault victims and reduce harassment on campus.
Hesse emphasized strengthening prevention efforts, streamlining the complaint resolution process and increasing support for complainants and affected communities.
Campus sociology professor Jennifer Johnson-Hanks, a member of the review committee, stressed the importance of improving data collection with sexual assault and sexual harassment. Johnson-Hanks said most of the data collected comes from formal investigations, but many on-campus assaults go unreported, making the data incomplete.
The report recommended that the campus work with Response to Intervention (RTI), a professional research organization, to conduct anonymous surveys using statistical sampling on campus.
Some recommendations are in the process of being implemented — the campus is currently accepting nominations for a special campus adviser on Title IX in the chancellor’s office. The committee expects to have a baseline survey on campus sexual violence and sexual assault within the next six months.
In addition to a mandatory one-unit class, the report recommends that American Cultures courses formally recognize gender and sexuality as components of social diversity.
Johnson-Hanks said this recommendation was mostly about changing the culture on campus with regard to sexual assault.
“I think the strength of Berkeley is our community and our commitment to each other,” Johnson-Hanks said. “This is a case where we have the human resources to do this well — we just need clear ethical leadership from the top.”