Inquiries made under the California Public Records Act (CPRA) recently revealed information concerning widespread issues with sexual assault, discrimination and misconduct at the various campuses of the University of California (UC), according to the Daily Californian.

In addition to the fact that the documents were obtained through bureaucratic channels, many were redacted heavily. This is indicative of the clandestine manner in which many sexual assault and harassment reports are often handled when left alone. Often, the only viable recourse for a victim is to seek legal representation.

Furthermore, the documents released in February 2017 illustrate several important points about the systemic integration of sexual harassment into the cultures of Los Angeles, Berkeley, San Francisco and several other campuses. The abusers ranged from cooks to deans, each faced with various consequences decided by proceedings both legal and extralegal.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the call for more clarity in the matter was answered in some part by UC president Janet Napolitano. She discussed the implementation of mandatory education programs and policy changes, but did not state any intention to publish data on sexual misconduct.

The president’s position reinforces the attitude many organizations have about harassment and misconduct: that they are things that must be kept quiet. The likely reason for this secrecy is twofold. The first element is the deleterious effect that sexual harassment allegations can have on the careers and reputations of the people who make them. The second part is that many of these alleged offenders enjoy positions of power over the people they abuse. Combined, this means that powerful people who may have an effect on policy choices might be adversely affected by openness and honesty on this subject.

In the case of the UC documents spanning the years 2013-2016, the Daily Bruin reports that 25 cases of sexual abuse occurred at the Los Angeles campus alone. A former program director at the School of Law was named as an offender, as was a former chairperson of the French department.

Los Angeles was not alone in its high-reaching scandals, according to the Bruin. A dean of the UC Irvine arts school was implicated in well over 20 instances of sexual harassment. A UC Riverside athletics leader was found to have inappropriately touched subordinates and to have made lewd comments.

Throughout the UC system, people in high-ranking positions repeatedly used their privileges to conduct themselves inappropriately. When confronted with evidence, they were disciplined through the internal processes of the University. However, less than half of the individuals at UCLA lost their jobs due to these internal investigations, according to the reports made by the Daily Bruin.

Don’t allow yourself to be intimidated into silence by individuals abusing positions of power or institutional reticence to share information about incidents. You are not alone. If you believe you have been the victim of egregious conduct or that your workplace has been made into a hostile environment by repeated sexist actions or unsolicited advances, consider approaching an attorney.

There are laws in place to ensure that individuals do not have to tolerate sexual harassment in Los Angeles. These laws are meant to protect you and your career, regardless of the identity of the offending party. Your options become limited after the period of time stated in the statute of limitations, so please, do not remain silent. Contact a lawyer to seek remedy promptly.

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