Sunday, March 13, 2016

Redoing the Penalties

University of California President Janet Napolitano has announced a new sexual harassment review process for administrative leaders, amid furor over Berkeley’s handling of misconduct claims involving its law school dean.  Napolitano also ordered new action against Berkeley law school dean Sujit Choudhry, who resigned this week after his former administrative assistant filed a civil lawsuit against him and the UC regents. In the lawsuit, Tyann Sorrell alleged that UC officials mishandled her complaints that Choudhry subjected her to continuous unwanted kissing and touching over several months until March 2015.

The Choudhry case represents the latest allegation that UC officials failed to properly handle sexual harassment claims involving faculty. This month, students and faculty members urged UCLA to take stronger action against history professor Gabriel Piterberg over his alleged sexual harassment of two female graduate students. University officials imposed a $3,000 fine and Piterberg was suspended for one quarter without pay.
Last year, Berkeley administrators decided not to fire Geoff Marcy, a renowned astronomer found to have sexually harassed female students for years, prompting his colleagues to mount a successful campaign to force him out.
And Graham Fleming, UC Berkeley's vice chancellor for research  resigned last April after allegations arose that he sexually harassed a former campus employee. But he retained a position as an international ambassador for the school’s planned Global Campus in Richmond – an arrangement Napolitano nixed this week in ordering him immediately removed from that job and all other administrative responsibilities...
In a separate letter, Napolitano directed Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks to bar Choudhry from campus for the rest of the term and institute disciplinary proceedings against him through the Academic Senate, which could result in suspension or dismissal. Napolitano also told Dirks that UC does not intend to defend Choudhry against Sorrell’s claims in court...
In a statement provided by Berkeley, Choudhry said he disagreed with Sorrell’s allegations but could not comment further. Berkeley spokesman Dan Mogulof said Dirks welcomed Napolitano’s actions...

And there's more: ...Sam Singer, a spokesman for Fleming, denounced the decision as a “deeply troubling example of the university punishing an innocent and dedicated leader solely to appear to be politically correct.” Fleming, now 67, resigned from his $400,000-a-year post as vice chancellor for research in April amid allegations that he had sexually harassed his top assistant. She complained that he had inappropriately touched her, kissed her on the neck and declared he wanted to “molest” her.

Fleming’s accuser was ex-Assistant Vice Chancellor Diane Leite, who herself had been fired from UC Berkeley three years earlier after it was revealed that she was having an affair with a much younger male subordinate and had doubled his salary.Even as he announced Fleming’s resignation as vice chancellor, Dirks praised him for helping UC Berkeley attract hundreds of millions of dollars and maintain its position as one of the world’s “elite research universities.” In 2014, Leite filed a complaint with Napolitano about harassment that she said she had endured from Fleming before she was fired. The UC president’s office concluded that Fleming had “more likely than not” violated the university’s anti-harassment policies.

At the time, Fleming acknowledged using “poor judgment,” but denied his actions were “unwelcome or otherwise constituted sexual harassment.” He was allowed to stay on as a chemistry professor, but was immediately granted a yearlong sabbatical. In his defense, spokesman Singer said Saturday that Fleming was “already punished severely — and wrongly — and now he is being unfairly and unreasonably punished a second time for someone else’s alleged wrongdoing. This is essentially double jeopardy and shows not only a lack of justice, but no rule of law at the university.”...

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