The University of California Board of Regents mandated sexual harassment training for all Regents on Thursday, responding to a recent accusation of sexual harassment against Regent Norman Pattiz.
The sexual harassment training now required of Regents was implemented for all UC administrators in June 2014. The policy also allows Regents to be sanctioned for behavior that does not fall within their professional capacity.
Pattiz, who was appointed to the Board in 2001 by Governor Gray Davis, was accused of sexual harassment earlier this month when a recording surfaced of him asking if he could hold a female colleague’s breasts.
In a statement to the Los Angeles Times, Pattiz said, “There is no excuse for any such comments or making anyone feel uncomfortable…If I did that, I sincerely apologize, and it will be a valuable learning experience.”
“The item before us today clarifies that a Regent’s actions, whether in private or public capacity, can be considered a failure to fulfill his or her duties as a member of the Board of Regents,” Regent Monica Lozano said Wednesday.
“The University of California has taken a strong, unequivocal stance on sexual violence and sexual harassment,” she said. “We do not tolerate such conduct anywhere in our campus community, and we remain committed to upholding the university statement of ethical values.”
Consequences could include being asked to resign or removal from leadership positions within committees. Only the California attorney general, however, has the power to remove a Regent from the board following a court proceeding.
The Committee debated the G5 amendment at length, with several Regents voicing concern about the limits of the Board’s involvement in their personal lives.
“What I don’t feel comfortable with is the notion that anybody in the public could take issue with the private activity of a Board member and bootstrap it into a Board issue,” Regent John A. Pérez said.
Pérez was “very clearly on the board” for education to address sexual harassment, he said, but took issue with the role of the governing body in Regents’ personal lives.
“What authority we give the Board if we’re individually or collectively displeased with the actions of a Board member is where I’ve got concerns, and where I don’t fully understand what we’re doing here,” he said.
Regent Russell Gould added that, “in our private lives, there are going to be all kinds of questions.”
“We just need to figure out whether it’s a grievance that rises to the level where the Regents should pay attention to it,” he said.