Sexual assault prevention

*CORRECTION: Michael Gend was misquoted in this story.

He said, “And compliance is not the same as prevention and to improve transparency and accountability.”

Sexual assault and harassment have been dominating the news cycle the last several weeks.

Campuses are not immune to these types of behavior, which is why Performing Arts Department Chair Michael Gend presented a proposal to support recommendations developed by National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

The Academic Senate on Oct. 8 discussed the report on sexual harassment, which provided guidelines to prevent mistreatment of women.

Sexual harassment is an issue covered in Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972, and since then, it has remained just as prevalent of an issue especially in the workplace.

“All that we do every year is really just a mechanism for compliance,” Gend said. “And compliance is the same as prevention and to improve transparency and accountability.” SEE CORRECTION ABOVE

Gend also spoke about a specific incident that took place at Pierce College where a performing arts student was sexually harassed by a teacher. He said there is only one investigator for the entire district that looks into these harassment cases specifically. It was for this reason that the student had given up on her case being investigated properly.

Until the investigation of a case is completed nothing happens for the student, Gend said. In addition, teachers feel as if there is nothing they can do in terms of Title IX because the situations must be investigated individually.

However, even though some professors and department chairs faced difficulty dealing with specific cases, Denise Robb, an instructor of political science, spoke about a situation where she was able to resolve the issue quite smoothly.

“We have a Title IX coordinator and we took care of it within 24 hours,” Robb said. “I think it was addressed pretty well.”

A similar topic mentioned in the discussion is that there is no policy that prevents teachers from engaging in a sexual relationship with a student so long as the student is not currently enrolled in one of their classes.

The floor then turned to Cara Gillis who is a member of the ethics committee. Gillis shared with the senate what exact protocol is in place when it comes to a student engaging in sexual conduct with a teacher.

“The code of ethics already has really extensive language about how one ought to approach and engage with their students,” Gillis said. “There is no specific prohibition against sexual conduct.”

The topic of sexual assault is something that is being had on campus by faculty and students. LACCD’s current solution is to bring awareness to sexual assault and its prevention through the mandatory online learning module released in September.  

The senate plans to vote on the proposal on Oct. 22 in the next meeting.