Petition to Dismiss UCLA History Professor Gabriel Piterberg
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I believe in a no tolerance policy for sexual harassment and demand Piterberg's dismissal at UCLA. *
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To UC President Janet Napolitano and the UC Regents:
We the undersigned are concerned and dismayed by the actions of UCLA History Professor Gabriel Piterberg and the University’s response to them. Graduate students Kristen Glasgow and Nefertiti Takla have accused Piterberg of repeated sexual harassment over many years. In June 2015, the students filed a federal lawsuit against the UC Regents for failing to take sufficient action regarding their complaints. UCLA History Department graduate students, faculty, and alumni have collected signatures, engaged in public protests, and submitted petitions to UCLA administrators to no avail. We find this unacceptable and insist that this case be referred to the UC Regents in order to facilitate Piterberg’s immediate dismissal.

Takla first made a complaint to the Title IX office at UCLA in June 2013. Yet, the investigation into Takla’s Title IX complaint to determine Piterberg’s guilt, led by then-officer Pamela Thomason, was terminated without findings. Instead, The University unilaterally decided to settle with Piterberg “in order to avoid the cost, uncertainty, and inconvenience of an administrative proceeding.” This settlement was woefully inadequate not only because it lacked transparency, but also because it was arbitrary: one quarter without pay (which Piterberg delayed until he was on a fellowship in Europe), and a $3,000 fine.

Even more egregious, the Title IX office did not even record Glasgow’s complaint, despite informing her otherwise, and deliberately discouraged her from taking further action. The result is that Takla’s complaint is now considered a “one-off” rather than part of a dangerous series of incidents that--if they were all recorded--would have necessitated a more severe punishment for Piterberg.

The UCLA History Department and the rest of the UCLA community are left to handle the mess of having a sexual predator as a colleague and teacher. While Piterberg has admitted “to the basic facts of the case,” he has not shown any remorse. The UCLA administration is tone deaf when it replies that it is thinking “intensely and creatively about solutions” in restoring the campus community. Piterberg should not be allowed back in the classroom: it is unsafe for both undergraduate and graduate students and prevents equal access to education under Title IX provisions. And without teaching duties, isn’t he inadvertently rewarded by having no responsibilities? Simply put, he can no longer fulfill his duty as a faculty member.

The unfair, surreptitious, and indifferent ways in which the UC System has dealt with sexual assault across its campuses have recently come to light in several cases, including those of Astronomy Professor Geoffrey Marcy, Boalt Law School Dean Sujit Choudhry, and Vice-Chancellor Graham Fleming at UC Berkeley; and English Professor Rob Latham at UC Riverside. In both cases that involved the assault and harassment of students, Marcy was forced to resign (after much public pressure) and Latham’s tenure was revoked. We believe the same should be true of Gabriel Piterberg.

We, the undersigned, make clear that sexual harassment has no place at our university nor in the UC system, and that we fully support the survivors of harassment across campuses. 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.

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