daily californian logo

BERKELEY'S NEWS • FEBRUARY 02, 2023

Ring in the New Year with our 2023 New Year's Special Issue!

Campus alumna starts nonprofit to support assault survivors prompted by experiences

article image

NATALIE CLEAVER | COURTESY

SUPPORT OUR NONPROFIT NEWSROOM

We're an independent student-run newspaper, and need your support to maintain our coverage.

SEPTEMBER 04, 2019

Content warning: Sexual violence and sexual harassment

Inspired by her own personal experiences, UC Berkeley alumna Natalie Cleaver launched a nonprofit, BerkeleyToo, aimed at reforming the process for campus community members to report sexual harassment.

According to Cleaver, despite changes that have been made to resources for sexual violence and sexual harassment survivors, she still believes the reporting process is hostile to victims. Cleaver said she hopes BerkeleyToo can connect victims of sexual violence and sexual harassment as well as pressure campus administration to change the investigation process.

“It is so important that students have a place to communicate anonymously,” Cleaver said. “You can’t stop people from being bad, but you can control behavior, and that is what institutions (such as UC Berkeley) are for.”

As a graduate student, Cleaver encountered unwelcome sexual solicitation from a faculty member. Documents from the investigation indicate that the faculty member was found with a preponderance of evidence to have been “responsible for a violation of the 2008 policy.”

Cleaver added that it took eight years before she decided to file a report. Encouraged by the #MeToo movement, Cleaver came forward to the campus Title IX office.

By the end of the investigation, which lasted more than a year, Cleaver said she felt that the Title IX violation reporting process was more harmful than the harassment that caused it. Through BerkeleyToo, Cleaver hopes to shed light on how the Office for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination, or OPHD, handles reports of harassment by faculty members.

“The stated goal is to stop sexual harassment by faculty at Berkeley, period,” Cleaver said.

Several other OPHD cases have come to light in recent years. In August 2018, campus architecture professor Nezar AlSayyad was suspended for three years and chose to retire after he was found to have harassed a graduate student. In February, professor Alan Tansman was suspended after he was found to have violated the sexual violence and sexual harassment policy. 

Despite BerkeleyToo’s main target being cases of sexual violence and sexual harassment perpetrated by faculty, Cleaver added that she wants to use the nonprofit as a base for victims to organize and communicate.

She also acknowledged that focusing on faculty sexual harassment is only one iteration of an overarching problem. Cleaver plans to use the nonprofit to further examine the flaws she perceived during her experience with OPHD’s investigative process.

“Many people have raised the issue of in-person cross-examinations being potentially traumatic for complainants, requiring survivors to perform and explain the harm they have experienced under the gaze of their alleged perpetrator,” said Corinne Biencourt, chair of the ASUC Sexual Violence Commission, in an email. “I would like to see a more trauma-informed policy that centers the ongoing wellbeing of survivors.”

Contact Brandon Yung at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @brandonyung1.
LAST UPDATED

SEPTEMBER 05, 2019


Related Articles

featured article
The policy, which was officially released July 31, was a response to a state appellate court decision from last year that ruled that respondents are entitled to certain rights when accused of sexual misconduct in higher education environments. It replaces an interim policy that went into effect in March.
The policy, which was officially released July 31, was a response to a state appellate court decision from last year that ruled that respondents are entitled to certain rights when accused of sexual misconduct in higher education environments. It replaces an interim policy that went into effect in March.
featured article
featured article
Attorney Mark Hathaway is suing the UC system on behalf of all students disciplined for sexual harassment and sexual violence based on a 2015 UC policy.
Attorney Mark Hathaway is suing the UC system on behalf of all students disciplined for sexual harassment and sexual violence based on a 2015 UC policy.
featured article
featured article
On Tuesday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed SB 233, a bill that prohibits prostitution-related arrests of people who witness or are victims of certain violent crimes and that prevents condoms from being used as evidence of sex work. 
On Tuesday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed SB 233, a bill that prohibits prostitution-related arrests of people who witness or are victims of certain violent crimes and that prevents condoms from being used as evidence of sex work. 
featured article