In an attempt to add a kinder, gentler persona, UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas B. Dirks becomes “Nick Dirks” in the university’s headline to this YouTubed mea culpa to the victims of the sexual predators inhabiting the higher reaches of Groves of Academe on the shores of San Francisco Bay.
Dirks, whose carefully posed image invariably features eyeglasses at half staff, posed at half mast between eybrows and lip fuzz, managed to look rather sheepish in acknowledging that his administration had engaged in what amounts to a coverup.
From the UC Berkeley Events:
UC Berkeley Chancellor Nick Dirks’ statement to campus on recent news of sexual harassment violation
In addition to the video apology, an email landed in the inboxes of faculty, staff, and students:
Dear Campus Community,
Several high profile sexual harassment cases here at UC Berkeley have raised deep and understandable concerns about how the campus and its leadership manages these cases and demonstrates our commitment to ensuring a safe community for all of our students, staff and faculty. In particular, we acknowledge that some recent decisions in cases of sexual misconduct have exacerbated these concerns, and we profoundly regret any and all errors of judgment on our part. We are now taking decisive steps to implement more appropriate and effective ways to rid our campus of sexual harassment.
The recent events at UC Berkeley and elsewhere have pointed to the need for serious reform, both on the Berkeley campus and across the system. Thus we support last week’s actions by President Janet Napolitano to pursue this reform on all 10 UC campuses. The president is immediately instituting a system-wide peer review of all sanctions imposed on senior university leaders who violate the university’s sexual assault and sexual harassment policy. This panel will set sanctions for sexual assault and sexual harassment cases, up to and including removal from an administrative position and recommendation that a case be referred to the appropriate Academic Senate committee for proceedings to terminate a faculty appointment. We regard this as a welcome step. It will ensure that remedies and penalties are applied firmly and consistently.
We are in the process of developing a similar peer review system on our own campus that will provide advice to administrators whenever they exercise discretion in disciplinary processes for faculty and staff who violate our sexual harassment policy. In disciplinary processes under the Faculty Code of Conduct, the administration would seek the advice of a review panel before deciding upon what disciplinary measures to recommend to the Committee on Privilege and Tenure. In the days ahead we will be formulating this peer review system in concert with campus leaders in this area, with Academic Senate leadership, and with President Napolitano. We will implement it as soon as possible.
Working with other campus leaders and colleagues we will invite experts in this area from around the country to help us develop immediate and actionable improvements both in our climate — the sense of safety and inclusion on campus — and in our practices. We have a responsibility to protect the integrity of our learning and working environment. We have made a personal commitment to work with all of you to see that critical and urgent reforms are put in place that will change our culture as well as our behavior, and thus genuinely ensure the safety of our environment. We will be sharing more information in the days ahead.
Chancellor Nicholas B. Dirks
Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Claude Steele