UCLA Urged to Fire Professor Accused of Serial Sexual Harassment

April 13, 2016

Graduate students and concerned alumni at the University of California at Los Angeles continue to organize against the planned return to campus of a history professor accused of serial sexual harassment, this time with a petition. The document, which had garnered more than 1,600 signatures as of Tuesday evening, asks Janet Napolitano, university system president, and the Board of Regents for the University of California to intervene in campus-level disciplinary proceedings against the professor, Gabriel Piterberg. Despite the severity of the allegations against him, Piterberg was given a one-term suspension and fined $3,000. He also agreed to various behavioral adjustments, such as not meeting with students with the door closed, causing many to question why he is being allowed back on campus at all.

“We, the undersigned, make clear that sexual harassment has no place at our university nor in the [university] system, and that we fully support the survivors of harassment across campuses,” reads the petition. “We are now forced to turn to you and the regents because the behavior and response from UCLA’s administration has broken our trust in their ability to fully respond to sexual violence on campus. We ask that you intervene in dismissing Piterberg from the university in order to show there is no tolerance for sexual harassment and gender violence of any kind at UCLA. We urge you to protect students and faculty from further harm by holding a vote to secure his dismissal, based on his violations of the sexual harassment policies in the Faculty Code of Conduct.”

The document also accuses the University of California System of uneven treatment of sexual harassers and suggests that Piterberg should be forced to resign or be fired, as in other recent sexual harassment cases on other campuses.

Piterberg, who is due back on campus this summer, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A university system spokesperson said his office doesn't comment on pending litigation, referring to a lawsuit filed against the university by two graduate students over its handling of the Piterberg case.

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