Dr. Anthony Fellow, President of the Board of Trustees, calls on Alex Boekelheide (“Buckle-hide”), Executive Director, Strategic Communications and Marketing Pasadena City College, during a time dedicated to awards and recognition at the Joint Board of Trustees & Associated Students Meeting held in the Creveling Lounge Wednesday night 04/04/2018.
This comes after former PCC student, Hanna Israel came forward and told her story about an alleged sexual harassment incident that occurred between her and Yu around 2011-2012. Though Israel’s story has come to light six years later, it does not make it any less important. If the Board of Trustees (BOT) and administration want to become an entity students can trust, then they must take action towards ensuring that sexual harassment incidents do not occur on campus again.
This begins with the BOT and Superintendent-President having transparent communication about sexual harassment situations, specifically when it involves a student and a contractor affiliated with PCC. The fact that we do not know whether or not the school took proper action under Title IX regulations is alarming. Students deserve to know what is happening on campus and how the BOT and administration will work to ensure that there is safety on campus.
When incidents such as Israel’s occur, under Title IX, college campuses are mandated “to respond promptly and effectively [and] must take immediate action to eliminate the sexual harassment or sexual violence, prevent its recurrence, and address its effects.”
To their credit, the administration released a statement saying that PCC is “[responding] as expediently and completely as possible in accordance with established law and policy,” however the previous and current administration have failed at “preventing its recurrence” by allowing Yu to continue being a presence on campus.
Israel claimed that the BOT and administration under previous Superintendent-President Mark Rocha promised her they would take immediate action to ensure that Yu would not be allowed on campus or interact with students. Yet, multiple sources have confirmed that he has worked on campus repeatedly since then, demonstrating the possibility that the BOT did not comply with their promise or act in “accordance with established law and policy.”
Furthermore, “if a school knows or reasonably should know about possible sexual harassment or sexual violence, it must promptly investigate to determine what occurred and then take appropriate steps to resolve the situation.” Though it is unclear whether or not PCC launched an investigation when this altercation occurred, it should have happened either way. Instead, it seems to have taken six years to abide by this rule and launch an investigation into inquiries about Yu’s past offenses.
However, launching an investigation “does not relieve the school of its duty under Title IX to resolve complaints promptly and equitably.”
These rules must be followed by college campuses that are federally funded by the government. Therefore, PCC could lose its funding if it does not abide by Title IX.
In fact, the Office of Human Resources on campus states that they “exhibit PRIDE” in their core values that serve the campus community. PRIDE is another pseudo statement (in this case acronym) that states that PCC is dedicated to providing an environment for all and is predicated upon “respect, open and clear communication, equity, responsiveness” and more.
If that were the case, then Israel’s incident would not have only sparked a conversation amongst HR staff about the failure to thoroughly check the contractor’s background but act in a way that reflects their core values.
However, that didn’t seem to be the case and not only was the campus community kept in the dark about Yu’s past, but one of the students of the community was let down and put in a situation that she should not have experienced.
Women wear armor of all kinds not only to maintain their strength but to protect themselves from the imbalance of power dynamics that threatens their livelihood. The world is a battlefield women walk into where they arm themselves the way they believe is best, with a word that is not understood nor respected, “No.”
This disrespect has contributed to the belief that “no” means consent. In fact, conversations about consent tend to go in the direction towards victim blaming, with survivors often having to justify their sexual harassment cases.
That Israel “was made to feel like [her incident with Yu] wasn’t a big deal” by the administration and the BOT, the very people put in power to protect the campus community, is unacceptable and goes against building a safe community for students.
The #MeToo movement has not only solidified a new era of women using their voices to end sexual assault and sexual harassment but demands that their stories be heard. The time has come to take action to cease perpetuating sexual harassment incidents from occurring. This means that stories about unwanted sexual advances, such as Israel’s, must not be trivialized or left alone without taking action.