San Diego, CA- Audits of four public universities in California found there were areas in which the universities’ sexual harassment and assault reporting policies and could use improvement when they receive complaints.
The audit of the universities, which included University of California, Berkeley; UCLA; California State University, Chico; and San Diego State University, found they had policies in place that adequately addressed sexual assault and harassment, but found failings in some “key” areas.
The audit, ordered by the state legislature, found the universities complied with the federal requirements related to enacting policies and distribution of those policies to students, but determined many students were unaware of exactly what the policies are.
According to the audit, in certain incidents, faculty members failed to report incidents to the relative authorities when they received complaints.
In one incident at UC-Berkley, four students alleged they were sexually assaulted by a member of a campus organization, but when they four victims were never informed of what corrective actions were taken until months after the perpetrator was punished with rehabilitation. The victims had no say over the aggressor’s punishment and had no idea their case had been closed, the Huffington Post reported.
In another incident, also at Berkley, a member of a social organization sexually harassed a fellow student. The incident was reported to club’s faculty adviser who talked with the offender, but didn’t file a formal complaint, the Los Angeles Times reported. A year later, the offender harassed the same student again.
Auditors recommended the universities conduct annual sexual assault and harassment training for faculty and staff and suggested lawmakers make it a requirement. They also recommended students be required to attend sexual assault and harassment workshops soon after arriving on campus.
The universities that were audited were allowed to review the results of the investigation before it was released to the public and agreed with the findings.
In a survey conducted by auditors, 35 percent of students at the four universities said they were subjected to sexual harassment or assault at least once while on campus. Sexual violence has become a major issue on university and college campuses and the Obama administration is taking this issue very seriously.
In May, the Department of Education announced they would be investigating at least 55 universities for their alleged mishandling of sexual assault and harassment complaints. (The DOE investigation is separate from this audit of California Universities). The investigation is still underway but it is likely to come up with similar conclusions as this audit.
Sexual harassment on the college campus is handled differently than in the workplace. College students must rely on faculty and staff to stop their abuse, but in the workplace, a person who is subjected to harassment can turn to a sexual harassment attorney if their complaints are ignored.
If you are being sexually harassed in the workplace you may be entitled to compensation if your employer allowed the abuse to go on or you were punished for filing a complaint.