UC Berkeley School of Public Health releases plans to reduce harm, cultivate safe community

photo of the UC Berkeley public health building
Brian Bi/File
In an effort to better hold itself accountable, the UC Berkeley School of Public health released its "Principles of Community." The school aims to put principles of equity, belonging and harm prevention into effect.

Related Posts

The UC Berkeley School of Public Health released its “Principles of Community,” which outlines a schoolwide commitment aimed at fostering a campus culture of inclusion, respect and safety for all.

“This statement is about allowing everyone in our community to show up as exactly who they are and expecting everyone to treat one another with respect and kindness,” said Marissa McKool, chair of the Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment Prevention Committee, in an email.

According to McKool, the School of Public Health can better hold itself accountable and seek to enact principles of equity, belonging and harm prevention by sharing its commitment to the public.

In 2019, the School of Public Health helped pilot a toolkit created by the PATH to Care Center to help academic departments prevent sexual violence and sexual harassment, or SVSH, McKool said. Through this process, it became clear that a common set of principles was needed for how campus community members ought to engage with each other in order to prevent all forms of harm such as SVSH, discrimination and racism.

The SVSH Prevention Committee was formed soon thereafter, tasked with engaging students, faculty and administration to best represent the lived experiences and opinions of these various groups, according to the School of Public Health’s website.

Actions to better align campus with these goals have already been undertaken, according to McKool, such as the conducting of a schoolwide survey and four separate focus groups to “include as many voices as possible.”

“Implementing these principles is ultimately about changing culture and changing social norms, which always takes time,” McKool said in the email. “While many of these principles are already in action, we certainly have a lot of work to do and are far from where we aspire to be.”

Future goals of the SVSH Prevention Committee include hosting regularly scheduled town hall meetings, offering training programs and incorporating the stated principles into course syllabi, research protocols, the student handbook, course evaluations and more.

McKool hopes the “Principles of Community” created by the SVSH Prevention Committee can serve as a model for other UC Berkeley schools and colleges. Academic departments across campus have created their own set of guiding principles similar to that of the School of Public Health’s guiding principles.

The Haas School of Business’ “Defining Leadership Principles” was outlined in 2010 to codify and reflect a distinct educational mission, according to Ann Harrison, the Haas dean. Since then, the Haas school has reviewed its guiding principles and found that they were in line with the standards set by the UC Office of the President and UC Berkeley’s Office of Equity and Inclusion.

“Inclusion incorporates supporting and respecting the personal experiences, values, and worldviews that arise from diversity of cultures and circumstances,” Harrison said in an email. “This breadth of experiences and backgrounds is part of the learning experience at Berkeley, and our community is much richer for it.”

In response to an uptick in Asian American hate crimes amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Harrison said her school hosted a space for students, faculty and alumni to share their stories and to learn how to become better allies.

Additionally, more than 60 Haas staffers signed up for a recent “Anti-Racism Challenge” training course discussing topics from the Black Trans Lives Matter movement to redlining in the housing industry.

Contact Kaleo Mark at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @kaleomark_dc.

A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the School of Public Health helped craft a toolkit to help academic departments prevent sexual violence and sexual harassment. In fact, the PATH to Care Center created the toolkit, and the School of Public Health piloted it.