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Study finds UCLA’s policies regarding faculty discrimination inadequate

By Daily Bruin

Oct. 19, 2013 1:27 p.m.

UCLA Chancellor Gene Block recently announced plans to hired a full-time officer to help ensure that incidents of racial discrimination against UCLA faculty members are properly addressed and recorded.

The university’s actions stem from the recommendations of a recent report, which analyzed alleged discrimination against faculty and found that UCLA’s policies and procedures for responding to these incidents were unclear and inadequate.

“Our investigation found that the relevant university policies were vague, the remedial procedures difficult to access, and from a practical standpoint, essentially nonexistent,” the report read.

In addition to appointing a full-time discrimination officer, the university intends to ensure that UCLA’s policies regarding discrimination are clear, Block said in the email to administrators and faculty Friday.

He added that administrators plan to work with the UCLA Academic Senate to make sure concerns are properly addressed.

In 2012, a group of faculty members approached UCLA administrators with concerns about incidents of alleged discrimination at UCLA.

In response to the faculty complaints, UCLA officials reached out to former California Supreme Court Justice Carlos Moreno to lead an independent review team charged with investigating the issue and proposing recommendations that would address any problems it uncovered. The review team interviewed 12 UCLA administrators and 18 faculty members who were willing to talk about their experiences.

Talks with faculty from minority backgrounds at UCLA revealed a slew of perceived instances of discrimination at UCLA, which faculty believed administrators did not adequately address.

The majority of instances of discrimination raised by faculty members involved hiring, advancement and retention decisions. The report also suggests that UCLA administrators had generally treated complaints of discrimination and bias as interpersonal conflicts and had not pursued repercussions for the accused faculty or administrators.

“There was clear consensus among faculty members who reported to the Review Team that the administration has demonstrated a lack of leadership on these issues,” the report said.

Faculty in one UCLA department, which was not named in the report for confidentiality reasons, told the review team that department faculty felt divided by their races and genders in the 2000s. They said that older white male faculty members discriminated against faculty who were women or from minority backgrounds.

Other faculty members said they had witnessed discrimination from senior faculty members in their departments or they had felt personally attacked because of their backgrounds.

Discriminatory statements such as “I thought Asian women were supposed to be submissive” was one of the remarks a faculty member at UCLA recounted.

The report recommended that UCLA continue its investigations, since some faculty members and administrators said the reported incidents and recent high-profile cases of perceived discrimination were only the “tip of the iceberg” and that, since the mid-twentieth century, the racial climate at UCLA had regressed.

The findings were released just after the University of California Board of Regents paid Dr. Christian Head, a UCLA surgeon, $4.5 million as part of a settlement for a racial discrimination lawsuit. Head claimed that his colleagues at UCLA ridiculed him and discriminated against him because he is black.

Block said in his email that he takes the report’s findings seriously and that UCLA intends to work to address the problem.

“It is one thing to talk about our commitment to diversity and creating a welcoming campus; it is quite another to live up to those ideals,” Block said.

Compiled by Amanda Schallert, Bruin senior staff.

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