BERKELEY, Calif. ― University of California President Janet Napolitano announced Saturday it will closely monitor UC Berkeley’s efforts to address sexual harassment complaints and assaults on campus following an outcry over what some saw as light-handed discipline of faculty members who sexually harassed students and staff.
Napolitano said in a statement that UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks will provide her office with written reports on the university’s plan to address sexual harassment on campus and that the two of them will meet in-person monthly to discuss the issue, with the first meeting scheduled for Friday.
Napolitano’s announcement follows a promise last week by Dirks to address and prevent sexual harassment and violence on the UC Berkeley campus.
“I am happy that Chancellor Dirks agrees that these issues demand concentrated, effective measures,” Napolitano said. “We both believe UC Berkeley needs to bring the same focus and competence to its handling of sexual assault and harassment investigations as it does its education and research missions.”
Napolitano also said that beginning Monday, Jody Shipper, the systemwide director for Title IX and sexual violence and sexual assault issues at the Office of the President, will work full-time with the Berkeley campus to ensure “the fair and expeditious handling of sexual assault and sexual harassment investigations through at least the end of the semester.”
Dirks last week rolled out a plan to address sexual harassment and sexual violence on campus that includes a review board to ensure those who violate the school’s sexual harassment policy are dealt with “in a firm and consistent manner” and more resources and staff for the campus office that deals with sexual harassment victims.
Dirks announced his plan three days after a UC Berkeley assistant men’s basketball coach who was found to have violated the school’s sexual harassment policy was swiftly fired. Yann Hufnagel a hired a lawyer to fight the university’s decision to terminate his employment.
Earlier, the university faced criticism for what some saw as its lax discipline in three other cases involving the campus’ vice chancellor for research, a prominent astronomer and the dean of the law school. All three men initially were allowed to keep their jobs but ended up resigning under pressure.
“The President and I share a sense of urgency around the need for concerted action, and we share an assessment of what the situation demands,” Dirks said Saturday. “I welcome the support and partnership of the Office of the President. I am fully committed to driving significant and substantive change on the Berkeley campus.”