Photo by Chloe Reynolds
While the public comment period of the July 18 UC regents meeting proceeded business as usual, a different scene unfolded outside of its building.
Chants of “fire all abusers, you bougie ass losers,” greeted those entering the UC San Francisco Mission Bay Building as eight demonstrators hosted a rally voicing frustration over the Title IX sexual misconduct investigation process.
Members from United Auto Workers Local (UAW) 2865, the union representing teaching assistants, students and faculty from UC Santa Cruz and UC Berkeley were among those present at the demonstration. They held signs demanding the UC oppose sexual abuse and claiming the regents have been protecting sexual predators. The signs cited allegations against tenured UCSC History of Consciousness professor Gopal Balakrishnan. City on a Hill Press and Buzzfeed News have previously reported on assertions of sexual harassment and drug use with students by Balakrishnan published by students on Facebook.
Days before Wednesday’s demonstration, the organizing body, referring to itself as MeTooUCSC, submitted press releases to several news outlets. The release stated the group’s intent to demonstrate outside of the regents meeting. The release also outlined the group’s attitude toward the UC’s process of sexual misconduct investigation, which demonstrators believe is flawed.
“I’ve seen how terrible Title IX is here. They’ve failed a lot of students[…],” said Santa Cruz UAW 2865 unit chair Ana McTaggart.
In fall 2017, a letter detailing accounts of alleged sexual misconduct committed by Balakrishnan began circulating social media pages. The letter is currently signed by over 170 people.
In spring 2018 a petition addressed to Executive Vice Chancellor Marlene Tromp and the dean of humanities Tyler Stovall, demanded the termination of Balakrishnan and a review of the sexual misconduct reporting process, among other demands. The petition currently has over 600 signatures from UCSC students, faculty, alumni and people affiliated with different universities.
In the two hours of rallying, demonstrators spoke of the importance of paving a road for more to come forward in the future.
“What we’re doing is building a groundswell of activism,” said UCSC psychology lecturer Bob Majzler, “and showing that there are folks who are public and want to build alternative structures, alternative than Title IX, to support people who are going through gender-based violence.”
Balakrishnan is currently on a $110,300 annual paid leave from UCSC, according to UCSC media spokesperson Scott Hernandez-Jason.