FAQ on Sexual Harassment

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Ways to Report Sexual Assault, Harassment or Discrimination

What are the options for reporting sexual harassment or assault?

There are three options available:

  1. Report it the Department by speaking with a staff or faculty member
  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.

Comments or concerns shared anonymously through our Climate Feedback Form are not formal reports, and OPHD will not investigate anonymous tips.

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.

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. When a member of the department that is defined as a "responsible employee" (including staff, faculty and all instructors) learns of a possible sexual harassment complaint they are obligated to report it to OPHD in a timely manner. We then receive instructions and guidance from OPHD on how to address the matter. The department is not allowed to investigate complaints.

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.

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.

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).

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. We run a departmental climate survey every other year and we see this as an important step in understanding our problem areas. We review survey results closely, looking for specific areas where departmental climate needs to be addressed and improved. We also regard our community principles as a guide for the decisions we make daily. Transparency, respect, learning - these are all important concepts that through pursuit of them we become a more healthy and enriching place to work and learn. We periodically work with campus multicultural, sexuality, and gender centers to develop programs for our community members to learn how to better communicate about diversity and climate issues.