Bills address sexual harassment in California public colleges

Students walk near Laxson Auditorium on the Chico State campus.

Credit: Jason Halley/University Photographer/Chico State

California lawmakers introduced a series of bills Monday to prevent and address sexual discrimination and harassment in the state’s colleges and universities.

The 12-bill package led by Assemblymember Mike Fong, who chairs the Assembly Higher Education Committee, follows a report released in February that detailed significant deficiencies in how the University of California, California State University and California Community Colleges handle Title IX. That federal law prohibits schools from sex-based discrimination.

“This package is a crucial step in creating a system of compliance and oversight that will increase transparency and accountability to address and prevent sex discrimination and harassment on college campuses,” said Fong, D-Monterey Park. “While there is still much work ahead, I am confident in the impact this legislative package will have for campus communities, especially students and staff. I look forward to continual collaboration between the Legislature and all California’s higher education institutions to address this issue of safety and equity on campus.”

The 12 bills include:

  • AB 810, from Assemblymember Laura Friedman, D-Burbank, would require all public colleges and universities to use UC Davis’ policy to conduct employment verification checks to determine if a job applicant for any athletic, academic or administrative position had any substantial misconduct allegations from their previous employer.
  • AB 1790, from Assemblymember Damon Connolly, D-San Rafael, would require CSU to implement recommendations made in a Title IX report conducted last year by the California State Auditor by Jan. 1, 2026. That report found the 23-campus system lacked resources and failed to carry out its Title IX responsibilities.
  • AB 1905, from Assemblymember Dawn Addis, D-San Luis Obispo, would create parameters around employee retreat rights, letters of recommendations and settlements for administrators who have a substantiated sexual harassment complaint against them.
  • AB 2047, from Fong, would create an independent, statewide Title IX office to assist the community colleges, CSU and UC systems with Title IX monitoring and compliance, and create a statewide Title IX coordinator.
  • AB 2048, from Fong, would require each community college district and each CSU and UC campus to have an independent Title IX office.
  • AB 2326, from Assemblymember David Alvarez, D-Chula Vista, would create entities responsible for ensuring campus programs are free from discrimination and would require the community colleges, CSU and UC to annually present to the Legislature how their systems are actively preventing discrimination.
  • AB 2407, from Assemblymember Gregg Hart, D-Santa Barbara, would require the California State Auditor to audit the community colleges, CSU and UC systems every three years on their ability to address and prevent sexual harassment on the campuses.
  • AB 2492, from Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin, D-Thousand Oaks, would create additional positions on college campuses to assist students, faculty and staff during the adjudication of sexual harassment complaints.
  • AB 2608, from Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel, D-Encino, would require campuses to offer drug-facilitated sexual assault prevention training.
  • AB 2987, from Assemblymember Liz Ortega, D-Hayward, would mandate that the community colleges and CSU provide timely updates on the outcomes of sexual discrimination and harassment cases to the people involved. The bill would request the same of UC.
  • Senate Bill 1166, from Sen. Bill Dodd, would establish annual reporting requirements for the community colleges and CSU to conduct a report on sexual harassment complaint outcomes, and a summary of how each campus worked to prevent sex discrimination. The bill would request the same of UC.
  • SB 1491, from Sen. Susan Talamantes Eggman, D-Hayward, would create a notification process for students who attend private institutions to disclose discriminatory events to the U.S. Department of Education, even if their college or university is exempt from Title IX.

The slate of bills follows a series of news nationally and statewide about mishandled Title IX cases. Last year, the CSU system was found to have mishandled a variety of cases based on reports from an independent law firm and the state auditor. CSU is currently implementing the changes and reforms called for in both reports, and it has already changed its policy allowing administrators who have committed misconduct to “retreat” to faculty positions.

“Whether it’s sexual harassment, gender-based discrimination, or any other form of misconduct, no student should feel unsafe or unwelcome in their learning environment,” said Lisa Baker, a representative from the student senate for California Community Colleges. “Unfortunately, harassment remains prevalent on college campuses, potentially affecting students’ mental health and academic performance. We students, and future students, are relying on Title IX and this package of bills for our success.”

Source link

About The Author

Scroll to Top