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July 28, 2016 Comments (0) Educational institutions

2 UC Berkeley Grad Students File CA Harassment Complaints


(Photo: Charlie Nguyen, Creative Commons)

(Photo: Charlie Nguyen, Creative Commons)

This week, two graduate students at the University of California, Berkeley took their allegations of sexual assault to the state agency that investigates discrimination claims. They claim that the campus failed to discipline a?faculty member who they accuse of harassing them.

\”We possess a right to pursue an education in an environment that supports our well-being,\” says grad student Erin Bennet, one of the charges\’ filers. She and her fellow student, Kathleen Gutierrez, accuse the school of taking way too long in its reporting process?and?are contacting the university to implement a zero tolerance policy.

Elizabeth Harrington, a journalist for ABC, reports the two women are filing charges against Professor Blake Wentworth for making unwanted passes their way and touching them inappropriately. Bennett says the problem became so bad that she needed to leave school on medical leave. \”It\’s completely detailed my future career, my education.\”

According to Meg Wagner from the New York Daily News, the school allowed the South and Southeast Asian Studies lecturer to help keep his tenure-track position and continue his work with the alleged victims month following the students\’ filed allegations. In October, school officials found that Wentworth had violated the school\’s anti-sexual harassment rules, but never disciplined him. Five more students came toward accuse him of creating unwelcoming, creepy advances.

Reportedly, he would complain to students about his wife, called one his \”poor little lamb,\” and alluded to things he would do with students if they were his wife. Only if the students threatened to take their complaints to the state did the university order the professor to stay away from the girls. He\’s also charged with touching their hands, rubbing their shoulders, and clasping his hands over their eyes like a practical joke.

A report published last week discovered that 19 staff members at UC Berkeley had violated the school\’s harassment policies, including?renowned astronomy professor Geoffrey March, who resigned. The Dean of the Law School, Sujit Coudhry, happens to be being sued. He has resigned from his position and has been inspired to stay away from campus.

Campus spokesperson Dan Mogulof?released a statement, saying \”The University of California, Berkeley is dedicated to ensuring that the campus is really a welcoming, safe, respectful, and inclusive community for everyone. Although we cannot comment on the reported complaint or litigation at the moment, the campus has had several steps to safeguard the interests and well-being of our students. Most recently, the department chair has reassigned this faculty member\’s classes with other instructors.\”

The Daily Mail reports that Wentworth vehemently denies all the allegations against him, but additionally says he cannot currently be on campus for undisclosed reasons. The newest complaints could open the doorway for a possible lawsuit from the California school.

\”So we call on other who\’ve been impacted by this culture of intimidation, harassment, silence, and fear of retaliation to come forward and speak out against a failing system that protects abusive faculty members.\”

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