Op-ed: A history of sexual violence at UC Berkeley

Sofie Karasek, a junior at Cal, was assaulted during her freshman year. Her experience inspired her to study the history of sexual violence at UC Berkeley and to express her views in the video, below, which was produced by Youth Radio. Karasek recently testified before the state legislature about the university’s sexual harassment and sexual assault policies.

Youth Radio is an award-winning media production company that trains diverse young people in digital media and technology. It was founded in Berkeley in 1992 during a period of heightened youth violence and homicide, and established itself as an outlet for Bay Area youth to process their experiences and provide an alternative perspective to the prevailing media dialogue. Youth Radio moved its headquarters to downtown Oakland in 2007.

Related:
Rape awareness event comes to Berkeley (10.10.13)

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  • bgal4

    A great many of these sexual assaults occur under the influence of alcohol at the parties. Both the frats and alumni association have resisted enforcement of under age drinking laws and sanctions against frats, tenants and landlords for consistently hosting out of control parties. Other cities with UC are doing a much better job of dealing with the problem of binge drinking and sexual assaults. Data this fall from UCB/UCPD party patrol is troubling, very high rates of emergency medical treatment required for intoxicated students, particularly young ladies. Southside party Thurs – Sat are absorbing the majority of police and paramedics resources leaving the rest of city understaffed. Time to get to the root of the problem, alcohol abuse at the parties. Since UCB has instituted Alcohol EDU and Party Safe program, the problems have only gotten worse.

  • Gsky

    Excellent points, bgal4. I would also be interested in information about any reluctance to investigate and prosecute cases based on whether the accused assailant is from either an influential family or a member of one of the UC athletic programs.

  • Amy Luna Manderino

    I was a graduate student of Political Philosophy at Penn State University in the early 1990’s. In my “Democratic Theory Seminar” I made the comment that ancient Greece was not, in fact, a democracy, but an oligarchy of an elite class that excluded women, slaves and men who did not own property. I was the only woman in the class and my factual comment was met with general eye rolling from the other male graduate students, except for one, who stood up for me, saying I actually had a point. The next day, his cubicle was plastered with pornographic and homophobic slurs (notes and pictures) directed towards him and me by name. The university responded by sending out a memo making clear that while they wholeheartedly supported “free speech” that this conduct was “unprofessional.” No education on sexual harassment, no investigation, no punishment. Later, when I approached the department head about graduating, he declared that my Feminist Theory and Marxist Theory classes (approved by my advisor) could not be counted towards my degree because they were taken in other departments and suggested I abandon my degree and focus my efforts elsewhere. After earning 36 credits toward my master’s degree, I took his advice, left and never looked back. I recently looked at the course description for a similar course at Penn State which now says that the course will cover how early “democracies” did not include women. When I read that, I burst into tears. Even twenty years later, the bullying I endured still produces strong feelings in me.

  • Mel Content

    Later, when I approached the department head about graduating, he
    declared that my Feminist Theory and Marxist Theory classes (approved by
    my advisor) could not be counted towards my degree because they were
    taken in other departments and suggested I abandon my degree and focus
    my efforts elsewhere.

    That’s not the approach I would have used. I would have merely told you that those classes shouldn’t be counted towards a degree because they were essentially political indoctrination classes masquerading as academic courses, and not worthy of college credits in the first place.

  • Mel Content

    A great many of these sexual assaults occur under the influence of
    alcohol at the parties. Both the frats and alumni association have
    resisted enforcement of under age drinking laws and sanctions against
    frats, tenants and landlords for consistently hosting out of control
    parties.

    Immature children incapable of handling their alcohol explains a lot of problems in student life.

  • Charles_Siegel

    It is vague to talk about “ancient Greece,” which had many cities with many different forms of government.

    Periclean Athens clearly did exclude women and slaves from government. In fact. women were so completely excluded from public life that they were barely allowed to leave their homes.

    But Periclean Athens was not “an oligarchy of an elite class.” It include free males of all classes (again, excluding slaves). From the time of Solon to the time of Pericles, Athenian government repeatedly forgave debts, helping the non-elite demos that had to borrow money to survive at the expense of the elite aristocracy that loaned them money.

    The question of whether it was a democracy is basically a matter of definition. America in the age of Jackson also excluded women and slaves, and I think most people would say it was a democracy – an imperfect democracy, because it did not include everyone, but still very different from absolute monarchies such as Prussia or oligarchies such as Venice.

    PS: Of course, the harassment and the slurs are inexcusable, but I wanted to make these factual points.

  • DisGuested

    Thank you for having the background and taking the effort to discuss the facts here impartially.