California Universities Not Doing Enough to Fight Sexual Assault: State Auditor

The auditor's report says the schools need to better train faculty members to respond to sexual assault reports

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    NEWSLETTERS

    California universities, including UCLA and UC Berkeley, aren’t doing enough to prevent and respond to sexual assault on their campuses, according to a state audit report released Tuesday.

    The audit was focused on UCLA, UC Berkeley, California State University at Chico and San Diego State University. It concluded some faculty and staff members, such as residence advisors and athletic coaches, are not properly trained to respond to a student’s report of sexual assault.

    These faculty members “are likely to be the first point of contact” for survivors, the report said.

    The audit said students need to be better educated about sexual assault before and during their time on campus, and universities should more actively inform students about the school’s policies and ways a survivor can report assault.

    The report comes less than a week after the University of California announced a new task force to address rape and sexual assault on its 10 campuses.

    “We aim to be the national leader in combating sexual violence on campus,” UC President Janet Napolitano said during the announcement of the task force.

    In February, 31 current and former UC Berkeley students filed a complaint against the school with the Department of Education, alleging the university did not do enough to address their reports of sexual assault.

    Universities are required to maintain safe campuses by the law Title IX, which prohibits sex discrimination in education, a rule the federal government has cracked down on recently.

    In a statement sent to the university community, UCLA Chancellor Gene Block said administrators will evaluate the report’s recommendations.

    UCLA student Savannah Badalich said while she agrees with the report’s findings and recommendations, she wishes it pushed for more funding for survivor resources.

    Badalich is a fourth-year student and the university’s student wellness commissioner. After being sexually assaulted by a fellow student in her second year, she founded the campaign 7,000 in Solidarity to fight sexual assault on campus. During the audit, she gave comments to state officials about UCLA’s responses to assault.

    “I experienced a lot of the things the auditors were talking about,” Badalich said. “I was one of those students who didn’t know what my resources were.”

    Badalich said she eventually sought counseling from the university’s sexual assault survivor center.

    She said the services are effective but the counselors could not meet with her as often as she needed. UCLA’s Campus Assault Resources and Education (CARE) division of the school’s mental health services has two full-time staff members and one part-time member.

    “There’s not enough people in it to take on the caseload,” she said. “That’s serving 28,000 undergraduates … Two people is not enough.”

    Badalich said the auditors should have recommended more funding for the services.

    “I looked the auditors in the face and told them, ‘Please, I know you’re going to find a bunch of things that are obvious to survivors but please recommend more funding,’” she said. “Your recommendations mean nothing without recommended funding, especially for public universities.”