May 5, 2014

WASHINGTON, DC – Congresswoman Speier (D-San Francisco/San Mateo/Redwood City) and Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) issued the following statement today after sending a joint letter to UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks on prevention and response to sexual assaults on campus. Speier and Lee met with Dirks and student survivors on campus April 15, 2014.

“At least one in five women is sexually assaulted in colleges across the country and UC Berkeley, if it takes the right steps toward prevention, can be a catalyst to end this national epidemic. I am encouraged by the commitment the university has taken so far to address the problem. We did hear a number of concerning allegations, however, that in the past UC Berkeley failed to fulfill its obligations to investigate sexual violence, and that some survivors were not even interviewed during investigations,” Congresswoman Speier said. “Being assaulted can define a student’s educational experience, and the university should provide survivors the resources they need to recover and be adamant about expelling predators from its campus.”

Congresswoman Lee said: “As a graduate of UC Berkeley, I was particularly troubled to hear from students first-hand about their experiences with sexual assault on campus. Both parents and students need to be equipped with accurate information regarding campus sexual assault prevention measures, reporting and response protocols so that they can make informed decisions about where they choose to attend college. As a psychiatric social worker,  I know that sexual assault survivors need comprehensive support,  including  mental, emotional  and medical services to deal with the trauma caused by these horrific events. They also need the reassurance in knowing that incidents are being properly investigated and that their perpetrators are disciplined appropriately. I look forward to continuing to work with Congresswoman Speier and UC Berkeley Chancellor Dirks  to advance these much needed improvements.”

UC Berkeley recently created survivorsupport.berkeley.edu/, an online resource to support and educate students about sexual harassment and violence on campus.

Click here to read the letter to Chancellor Dirks.

In January Congresswoman Speier led a bipartisan letter signed by Lee and 38 other members that called for more transparency about investigations and enforcement actions against institutions found deficient in their protections against sexual violence. The Department of Education is being urged to develop policy guidance to support colleges to create prevention and response efforts that include same-sex sexual violence. Many of the White House Task Force’s actions and recommendations, including the creation of the consolidated website NotAlone.gov, are based upon the Members’ policy recommendations.

Congresswoman Speier plans to introduce the Hold Accountable and Lend Transparency (HALT) on Campus Sexual Assault Act this month to provide more vigorous enforcement of campus sexual assault.