FAQ on Sexual Harassment

FAQ on Sexual Harassment

Q: What are the options for reporting sexual harassment or assault?
Q: What policies and procedures does the Department follow in responding to reports?
Q: What is the role of the OPHD (Title IX) office in investigating reports of sexual harassment or assault? What other resources are available?
Q: What can be done to support the academic progress of survivors of sexual harassment or assault?
Q: What steps can be taken to make victims feel safer during investigation of their report?
Q: How can we assure the climate of the department is one that will prevent an incident of sexual harassment or assault?

 

Q: What are the options for reporting sexual harassment or assault?

There are three options available:

  1. Report it the Department  
  2. Talk to the Confidential Care Advocate
  3. Report it to the Office for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination (OPHD)

Please note that the department chair, administrators, faculty, and basically most of the staff, are considered “responsible employees,” and as such are required to bring any reports of sexual harassment and/or violence immediately to OPHD and with all the known details, including the names of the reporter, the victim (if not the person reporting) and the alleged perpetrator. Therefore, there is no confidentiality in the reporting process. If confidentiality is an issue, then an initial discussion with the Confidential Care Advocate to discuss options and implications is a good first step.

Once a report is passed on to OPHD from the department, the department’s involvement with the investigation is limited to providing OPHD with relevant information, and it is unlikely that the department will be informed on the details of the investigation. If someone reporting an incident to OPHD wants their identity to remain confidential, then OPHD will respect that choice. However, to file an official complaint that results in an investigation and action, confidentiality must be waived.
For some, the decision to file a formal complaint can be difficult.  The Department recognizes the inherent stress and concern that students, faculty, and staff may feel when addressing incidents of harassment and/or discrimination. Physics is committed to supporting the complainant and to protecting the educational progress and professional careers of those who bring forward complaints in good faith.

We strongly encourage anyone who has experienced, witnessed, or even heard rumors about sexual harassment or violence in the department or on campus to bring it to our attention immediately. 

As mentioned, the Department will pass all reports on to OPHD - but want and need to know if there are issues in the department or on campus that need to be addressed.

Read the overview of reporting options.

 

Q: What policies and procedures does the Department follow in responding to reports?

The Physics Department is actively implementing departmental policies and procedures that can support, not override, UC-wide policies and procedures. Any reports will be investigated and acted upon quickly by the department, within the limits on confidentiality set by the person reporting the incident. It is difficult for the department to investigate or respond to, individual incidents if the person reporting wants to remain confidential. However, we will investigate to the level possible while respecting the wishes of the person reporting. While we cannot respond to individual incidents if the person reporting wants their identity to remain confidential, we can respond to patterns of behavior that are consistently and credibly reported by multiple individuals. And as mentioned previously, the Department is also obligated to report to OPHD. 

 

Q: What is the role of the OPHD (Title IX) office in investigating reports of sexual harassment or assault? What other resources are available?

There are a number of reporting options and resources for students who have experienced sexual harassment or assault.

Further information on reporting options can be found on the UC Berkeley Survivor Support website.  Please also review the Resources page (link to our resources) for additional sources, like the Ombuds office. 

The Title IX office, also known as the Office for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination (OPHD), is primarily tasked with responding to official complaints of discrimination and harassment on the basis of categories including race, color, national origin, gender, age and sexual orientation, and providing training required by California state law. Additionally, they have specific responsibility for providing prompt and effective responses to complaints of sex discrimination or harassment for faculty, staff and students. For students seeking confidential advice or advocacy on their behalf, an appropriate option might be the Confidential Care Advocate.

 

Q: What can be done to support the academic progress of survivors of sexual harassment or assault?

The Department is committed to supporting the academic success of survivors and victims and one of the services of the Confidential Care Advocate is to help students in working out these accommodations. Such arrangements would be specific to the individual student and their academic situation.

 

Q: What steps can be taken to make victims feel safer during investigation of their report?

This is hard to answer in general, since every situation is different. During an official Title IX investigation (in response to an official complaint) the options are more numerous. In terms of departmental response, potential actions are likely limited by the level by which someone reporting an incident wants to remain confidential or not. But academic accommodations can be made (see question above).

 

Q: How can we assure the climate of the department is one that will prevent an incident of sexual harassment or assault?

We always welcome ideas for improving the departmental climate. Our student climate survey was a first step in this process and the results will be shared in January 2016.

We will be reviewing this survey closely, looking for specific areas where departmental climate needs to be addressed and improved. We are also working to improve communication, online and around the department, regarding the equity & inclusion work by students, faculty and staff within Physics.  

Finally, we have started working with campus multicultural, sexuality, and gender centers to develop a program for faculty to learn how to better communicate about diversity and climate issues with students. 

If successful, we will investigate expanding this program to include students. 

Climate does not change overnight, but the Department is committed to making this a welcoming and safe environment for everyone.