UC Student Association calls for changes to UC regents sexual misconduct policy

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The UC Student Association, or UCSA, released a statement Wednesday calling for a new misconduct policy for the UC Board of Regents after Regent George Kieffer was publicly accused of sexual harassment at the regents meeting Nov. 13.

Rebecca Ora, a UC Santa Cruz graduate student, alleged during the meeting that in November 2014, she attended a dinner with Kieffer and her peers to discuss the issue of rising tuition. She alleged that Kieffer grasped her leg “throughout the evening.”

In response to these allegations, the UCSA issued a statement calling for a new policy regarding future action when it comes to allegations of sexual misconduct against the regents.

“We call for a new policy, drafted by a committee of University stakeholders that includes students, workers, elected officials who serve as ex-officio regents, and other relevant groups,” said the official UCSA statement.

Changes to the original policy would include “a clear process for complainants to file cases of misconduct,” and an independent third-party investigator hired to avoid any biases or “influence of the Board of Regents,” according to the statement.

The statement called for a clarified timeline for the investigation, evaluation and resolution of the complaint, as well as a “transparent and consistent process for enacting sanctions.”

It also called for resources and counsel for claimants that are independent from the Board of Regents and an annual audit report “summarizing all complaints submitted at the July regents meeting,” according to the statement.

“We made a statement concerning the allegations because we thought it was important for us — along with UC Graduate & Professional Council and the UC Council of Student Body Presidents — to stand together united to say that we believe Rebecca and to call on the Regents policy to change,” said Varsha Sarveshwar, UCSA president and ASUC external affairs vice president, in an email.

In an earlier interview with The Daily Californian, Ora expressed her frustration with the policy timeline, as she filed a report in July 2018. She also alleged that navigating the UC Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment Policy and Regents Policy 1112, which deals with cases of sexual harassment reported specifically against regents, has been “awful.”

The UCSA statement emphasized its “zero tolerance” policy toward misconduct in any way within the professional workspace.

“We specifically want allegations of misconduct by members of the Board to be reviewed and investigated by a completely independent third party that is free from the influence and pressure of the Board,” Sarveshwar said in the email. “Over the next few weeks, we’ll be advocating for that to happen.” 

Contact Audry Jeong at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @audryjng_dc.