Future of ASUC Sexual Violence Commission ‘unclear’ because of lack of leadership

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The ASUC’s Sexual Violence Commission, created to increase student input in campus processes surrounding sexual violence policy, is currently inactive because only one person applied to chair the commission.

The commission has not been disbanded, and the ASUC will be reopening applications for committee chair, according to ASUC Chief Personnel Officer Evan Cui, who handles progress and general administration for all ASUC commissions. Cui added that his top priority is setting the commission up to succeed.

“(I’m) urgently working to get it up and running again,” Cui said in a text message, adding, however, that the timeline is “unclear.”

UC Berkeley has seen a string of sexual misconduct controversies on campus over the past several years. In February, The Daily Californian obtained hundreds of pages of UC Title IX investigation reports that revealed 124 cases of sexual misconduct across the UC system. Many of these investigations involved notable campus faculty members, including former dean of the UC Berkeley School of Law Sujit Choudhry and renowned campus professor emeritus of philosophy John Searle.

More recently, on Sept. 28, a UC Berkeley student filed a lawsuit against former Tang Center postdoctoral fellow Eric Samuels, alleging that he sexually harassed and emotionally abused her while he was assigned to her case.

Former ASUC senator Rosa Kwak, who focused primarily on issues of sexual assault and violence while she was on the senate, said working on such issues can be “laborious” and triggering, especially for students who are survivors.

“If they are taking a break, it’s understandable,” Kwak said of the commission’s inactivity.

One of the ASUC Sexual Violence Commission’s past efforts was the implementation of Cal Consent Week, which aimed to educate people on rape culture and support sexual assault survivors. Thanh Mai Bercher, former assistant director of the commission, said that despite the commission’s current inactivity, she is hopeful about the continuation of anti-sexual violence activism on campus. She emphasized that the commission “wasn’t the only place this work was being done.”

“I think as long as people’s voices are strong, they can still organize around this issue,” Bercher said.

Contact Harini Shyamsundar and Naira Khalid at [email protected].