A guide to reporting sexual harassment or assault at UC Berkeley

Editor’s note: This is a general guide. It is not comprehensive; every survivor’s situation is unique, and there are many courses of action a survivor may choose to take. Reporting does not have to be one of them.

The number of sexual assaults that occur on college campuses is significantly higher than the number of cases that are actually reported. According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, one in five women and one in 16 men are sexually assaulted while in college, but more than 90 percent of these survivors do not report the assault. In the past seven years alone, 19 UC Berkeley employees have violated UC sexual harassment policy.

Some survivors may choose to file a campus report rather than a police report, meaning their cases would not be heard in a court of law and no legal charges would be pressed. There are many reasons a survivor might choose to do this, including a desire to protect their own privacy.

Filing a campus report, or even telling someone about the incident, is a difficult and brave thing to do. There can be, however, many benefits to telling someone, and there are a number of ways to find support, not all of which entail filing a UC report.

All alleged violations occurring on UC property or related to a campus event are under campus jurisdiction. In addition, in some instances the campus may exercise its jurisdiction even if the alleged violation happened off campus if it involved campus community members — such as students or faculty — and would have violated other policies had it occurred on campus.

The most important thing to remember if you are a survivor of sexual harassment or assault is ensuring your own safety and well-being. What happened to you is never your fault. You are in complete control of what happens next, and only you can decide what the right course of action is for you.

If you are sexually assaulted or harassed and would like to pursue a reporting path within the UC system, you have several options.

To file a report with the university:

    1. Call the Office for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination — UC Berkeley’s Title IX office — at 510-643-7985, or email [email protected].
    2. Report your case, anonymously if you wish, to OPHD. A Title IX officer will receive your case.
    3. The Title IX officer will then decide whether to pursue a formal investigation into your report based on an initial assessment to ensure that:
      1. Your report alleges an act that violates the UC sexual violence and sexual harassment policy.
      2. The alleged act falls under campus jurisdiction.
        This initial assessment is made as soon as possible once the officer receives your report.
    4. Remember: Filing a report with UC Berkeley is separate from any legal charges. Any investigation or findings carried out by the campus are not the equivalent of a legal ruling or sentencing.

After reporting:

If the Title IX officer decides to open a formal investigation, it typically takes 60 business days for an investigation to be carried out from start to finish. This time frame can vary depending on factors of the case, such as whether the matter involves one incident or a series of incidents, the number of individuals involved and the level of participation from respondents and complainants in the process.

During the investigation, OPHD conducts interviews with all parties involved, including the survivor (the complainant), the accused individual (the respondent), any witnesses and any relevant documents to determine whether there is sufficient evidence of a policy violation. The OPHD provides periodic written status updates to both the survivor and the respondent during the course of the investigation.

If OPHD decides not to conduct an investigation, the officer will pursue an alternative resolution, which can include solutions such as mediation (except in cases of sexual violence) or referring both parties to counseling. Alternative resolutions can be used for a variety of reasons, including if the report is made anonymously, if both parties request an informal process or if a case involves less serious violations than violence.

If your report involves members of faculty or staff, the Title IX officer directly determines whether the respondent has violated UC misconduct policy. If the case involves a faculty member, the report will be forwarded to the vice provost for the faculty to review. If the case involves a staff member, the department or supervisor of the staff member will typically review the report and determine appropriate sanctions.

If your report involves students, the investigator forwards a recommendation to both the Center for Student Conduct, or CSC, and OPHD, which then jointly assess the Title IX office’s findings and decides if and what charges should be brought up.

Both offices respond with an investigation summary, detailing its evidence and analysis of whether the respondent in the report has violated UC sexual misconduct policy. Both the respondent and the complainant may choose to appeal the CSC’s decision.

The CSC then contacts the student or student organization charged with violating UC policy and arranges a meeting, during which the CSC listens to their perspective and determines whether there was a violation.

After this meeting, a CSC member proposes sanctions. If the accused refuses to comply with the CSC’s proposed disciplinary sanctions, the case goes to a hearing before an independent hearing officers panel or a single independent hearing officer, who make the final decision on what disciplinary sanctions, if any, should be taken.

The CSC’s disciplinary actions are separate from legal proceedings and range from suspension to expulsion or job dismissal. Whether criminal charges are pursued is a decision made by the survivor, not the campus.

To talk with a confidential advocate:

  1. Call PATH to Care at 510-642-1988 to set up an appointment, which can be within the same business day or at your earliest convenience. PATH to Care is a free-of-charge campus counseling service that supports survivors of sexual harassment or violence.
  2. These advocates can guide you through the process of filing a report. They can also connect you with other kinds of recovery resources, such as safe housing and medical exams, or can simply help by listening.
  3. Remember: If you tell someone at the PATH to Care office about your case, it is not considered an official report, and the campus will not conduct an investigation. For example, if you decide to only talk to a care advocate, they cannot file a report without your approval. Anyone you share your information with cannot share that information without your explicit consent, except in situations of imminent harm or danger, such as ongoing violence or continual threats to the survivor’s life.

For more information about the different paths a survivor might want to take, review the UC Berkeley Survivor Support page on the resources the campus provides.

Contact Ashley Wong at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @wongalum.

A photo attached to a previous version of this article may have implied that the Office for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination is still located in University Hall. In fact, the location of the office is 2111 Bancroft Way.

A previous version of this article may have implied that UC Berkeley will always exercise jurisdiction over allegations involving the campus community. In fact, the campus may or may not be able to exercise jurisdiction.

A previous version of this article may have implied that only the Center for Student Conduct files notices of allegations and investigation findings. In fact, both the Office for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination and the CSC do so.