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Wednesday, December 1, 2021

UC Davis students take action to combat sexual assault

DCD drafts resolution in support of survivors, Title IX Advisory Board responds to proposed sexual misconduct guidelines from DOE

From on-campus political groups, including the Davis College Democrats (DCD), to student representatives of the official UC Title IX Advisory Board, UC Davis students are taking action to combat and address sexual assault and violence.

The DCD drafted a public resolution in support of sexual assault survivors on Dec. 5, in large part due to recent revelations about California Democratic Party Chair Eric Bauman.

According to the DCD, Bauman “is the subject of multiple allegations of sexual harassment, including inappropriate comments and unwanted touching.”

According to a Nov. 29 article in The Sacramento Bee, Bauman resigned from his position. In response to the allegations, Bauman praised those who came forward and has said that he will be taking time off to address medical issues as well as “a problem with alcohol.”

The DCD’s stance is that the structure of the state Democratic party has “failed to create a safe and inclusive environment.”

“This resolution was jointly drafted by DCD’s LGBTQ+ and Womxn Caucuses in response to the inability of the California Democratic Party leadership to stand up for survivors of sexual misconduct at the highest level of our state party,” a statement released by the DCD to The California Aggie read.

The resolution effectively creates a new committee — the Bylaw Drafting Committee — which aims to update the bylaws to allow for the removal of members in instances of sexual misconduct.

“I feel that our bylaws do not currently have an adequate system in place to handle sexual misconduct,” said Daniel Tillman, the DCD LGBTQ+ Caucus chair, via email. “The allegations against the former CDP [chair] have served as a reminder that we can improve and that we must adapt our responses in the wake of the #MeToo movement.”

Tillman added that it was important for DCD members to reaffirm their commitment to sexual assault survivors.

“We felt that we needed to make it clear that sexual misconduct and those who participate in it hold no place in our organization,” Tillman said.

The revelations about Bauman’s actions have reverberated throughout the California Democratic Party.

According to the LA Times, Allan Acevedo, LGBTQ Caucus chair for the Young Democrats and a “political consultant for the youth arm of the party,” was directly affected by Bauman’s behavior.

According to their website, The Young Democrats are “the official youth arm of the Democratic Party made up of Democrats age 14-35 committed to activating the youth vote, empowering Young Democrats in their community, electing Democrats to office and building a new generation of progressive leadership.”

Acevedo spoke to The California Aggie via email about the allegations made regarding Bauman.

“The first people to complain were younger activists, just 21 and getting their start in politics,” Acevedo said. “They saw some behavior on a bus and complained about it. That lead others to sort of say, ‘Oh that? Do you know what else he does?’ And then other people came forward. There is strength in numbers.”

Bauman’s behavior also impacted Acevedo personally.

“For me, it was knowing Eric engaged in this behavior before and was now doing it in front of a new generation of activists,” Acevedo said. “I knew I should have said something sooner and it was better now than never.”

Acevedo believes that the allegations, and Bauman’s subsequent response, will have a profound impact on the way that the CDP operates.

“Indelibly, the Party will be changed,” Acevedo said. “How and in what way will depend on the members that will vote for a new Chair in May 2019. The previous race saw candidates compete for the youth vote. I expect that will happen again.”

Acevedo also expressed hope that those who have remained silent about their experiences with Bauman will come to the CDP — “we need all of our time and talents working together to advance our values,” he said.

When asked about what advice he would give to individuals who have experienced sexual misconduct at the hands of those in positions of political power, Acevedo said, ultimately, he hopes survivors remember that any incident of sexual harassment is not their fault.

“You, not anyone else, can define experiences for yourself,” he said. “Telling someone about an incident might seem scarier than the actual incident but will free you from holding on.”

This advice comes at a time of upheaval regarding sexual harassment and assault policies in the U.S. educational system.

The United States Department of Education is considering changes to Title IX-based rules, specifically in the way universities handle cases of sexual harassment, assault and other sexual misconduct.

The UC Davis Chief Compliance Officer and Title IX Officer, Wendi Delmendo, took a firm stance against the proposed changes, expressing concern that the new guidelines would undermine due process procedures already has in place. Further, the policies could potentially impose harsher regulations about how universities are able to constructively address sexual harassment claims.

Claire Chevallier, a UC Davis undergraduate representative for the UC Title IX Advisory Board, said via email that the ASUCD Sexual Assault Awareness Advocacy Committee will host two workshops in January aimed at educating students about the proposed policy changes.

The Department of Education has allowed for a 60-day public comment period, which is currently open, allowing for feedback regarding the proposed changes. Chevallier referred to this comment period, saying the workshops will allow participants to craft responses to the controversial new rules that Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is seeking to put in place.

“The workshop is something we’d like to have as many students as possible join in,” she said, adding that the goal is for attendees to submit comments and thus delay the implementation of the proposed changes for at least a year.

Chevallier noted that the proposed changes may seem “intimidating,” but that the controversial proposal has also contributed to increased mobilization regarding the issue of sexual assault and harassment in the United States.

“Students can write [their comments] as individuals or can write on behalf of their organization and have their constituents sign it electronically,” Chevallier said. “Parents and alums can also participate.”

Written by: Rebecca Bihn-Wallace — campus@theaggie.org

1 COMMENT

  1. “The workshop is something we’d like to have as many students as possible join in”
    Bullshit. You’re only willing to hear out people who will echo your opinions exactly. Any divergence will immediately and viciously be dismissed as sexist and rape apologetics.

    RIP due process and evidence..

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