Sexual misconduct allegations have prompted University of California student leaders to call for policy changes among the governing board of the University system.
Members of student organizations across the UC said in a statement released Nov. 20 that they were deeply troubled by recent allegations against Regent George Kieffer. The statement was signed by UC Student Association President Varsha Sarveshwar, UC Graduate and Professional Council President Connor Strobel and UC Council of Student Body Presidents co-Chairs Shane Wood and Davon Thomas.
Rebecca Ora, a UC Santa Cruz graduate student, accused Kieffer of grasping her thigh throughout a 2014 dinner with other UC students held prior to the November 2014 regents meeting.
During the public comment section of the November 2019 regents meeting, Ora called for Kieffer to step down and for greater oversight of the Board of Regents.
Sarveshwar, Strobel, Wood and Thomas said in the statement they believe the process for reviewing cases like Ora’s, known as Regents Policy 1112, is flawed.
“Regents Policy 1112 essentially requires Regents to hold themselves accountable by tasking a three-member panel of Regents to oversee an investigation,” the statement read. “This is not survivor-centered, trauma-informed, impartial, or just, and it clearly prioritizes the powerful over those who may have been harmed.”
Ora’s accusation is not the only one in recent years. Former Regent Norman Pattiz announced his retirement in December 2017, after backlash over sexually inappropriate comments he made in 2016.
The student leaders called for a new policy to be drafted that allows for a clear process for complaints and for an independent, third-party investigator to handle complaints. The leaders also called for a transparent and reasonable timeline for investigation and resolution, resources and counsel for claimants, and an annual audit report of all complaints.
Additionally, they said if an independent investigator confirms Ora’s allegations, Kieffer should be removed from the Board of Regents.
“All members of the UC community, (Ora) included, deserve this kind of fair, impartial process to adjudicate complaints,” they said.