Sexual misconduct allegations swept under the rug by Berkeley

by Julianna McDowell, Staff Columnist

The University of California, Berkeley, a public university known for its prestigious academic standing, has recently come under fire for a multitude of sexual misconduct allegations.

In any other college setting, one would think that these reports of sexual assault would emanate from harassment between students, but in actuality, the charges have been aimed at the chief administrators and faculty of various departments of the university.

Now, in recent events, Berkeley’s provost has resigned after being accused of mishandling a sexual harassment case. Numerous staff members have have been fired for sexual harassment violations.

However, the question remains – are these actions too little, too late?

Sexual harassment is defined as harassment in a workplace or other professional or social situation, involving the making of unwanted sexual advances or obscene remarks.

To many students, these actions may not seem out of the ordinary between a superior and a subordinate. Realistically, many may not know how to report these incidents, while others may not want to report them.

And what’s more, Berkeley’s administration failed to properly address these concerns, according to several students who have filed lawsuits against the university.

The administration continued to allow these faculty members, including the dean of Berkeley’s law school, Sujit Choudhry, astronomy professor Geoffrey Marcy and men’s basketball assistant coach Yann Hufnagel to remain in positions of tenured authority even after investigations determined the claims of sexual harassment were valid. All three men have recently resigned from their positions at UC Berkeley. Choudhry filed a grievance suit against the university, alleging his due process rights were violated.

Even survivors brave enough to speak up and stand against these administrators were left feeling neglected by the university.

Protests have been taking place on campus as students have voiced these concerns in a public and vocal forum.

Many students feel the university has disregarded their safety and education and instead worked to maintain faculty reputations and the reputation of the university overall.

Students and faculty alike are questioning the ethics of the university’s leadership, and in turn are speaking out against it.

“I think I speak for a large portion of the Cal community when I say this kind of treatment of students by faculty members cannot be tolerated,” said Sanjay Nimmagudda, sophomore film and English major at UC Berkeley.

“It’s a blatant misuse of professional standing and is cause for significant alarm.”

The ethical principles and serious professional integrities ignored in the handling of these cases cannot go unpublicized.

Berkeley’s underreporting of these crimes on campus is part of a larger sexual assault issue on campuses nationwide, where according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, more than 90 percent of sexual assault victims on college campuses do not report the assault.

This may be in large part due to the gross underreporting and underplaying of these crimes by university administrators who see students as another dollar amount of tuition.

Sexual harassment at Berkeley has shed light onto both itself and the university system in general on the issue of sexual harassment and assault.

Campuses cannot continue to treat their students as second-class citizens while faculty play God.

University administrators, especially at UC Berkeley, must take responsibility for their actions and the actions of their employees.

They must take steps to ensure that these cases are brought to justice and handled with the utmost care and seriousness.

In each instance, no student should have to feel unsafe in a place that is supposed to be dedicated to higher learning.

College students have a lot to worry about: midterms, money and jobs for some. They shouldn’t have to worry about sexual harassment as well.

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