The Student News Site of Sonoma State University

Sonoma State Star

The Student News Site of Sonoma State University

Sonoma State Star

The Student News Site of Sonoma State University

Sonoma State Star

Sexual harassment audit has changed my view of my campus

Sonoma+States+campus+has+dealt+with+a++numerous+sexual+harassment+claims.
Olivia Keeler
Sonoma State’s campus has dealt with a numerous sexual harassment claims.

How could the school where I feel so supported also have one of the worst sexual assault rates of all California State University campuses?

A detailed audit conducted and released by the state of California on July 18 has uncovered the mishandling of sexual assault reports and investigations on CSU campuses.

Sonoma State University has a student body of around 7,000. The campus had 43 reports of sexual harassment between 2016 and 2022 while the much larger California State University, Los Angeles, received 39 reports with around 27,000 students. California State University Maritime Academy is the only institution with a worse rate, at 10 reports with 880 students, as detailed in the audit.

As a woman, I am already on guard a lot of the time. I have been sexually harassed outside campus and know how degrading it can feel, but it has never been part of my educational experience.

These numbers have created a sense of mistrust on the campus where I once felt so comfortable. The experience I have gained as a journalist has been largely from Sonoma State. Although I have felt a deep connection to the school, I have come to understand that others have not had the same luxury.

Hannah Rock, a junior in Sonoma State’s Hutchins School of Liberal Studies reflects on a past scandal. “We heard about the [President] Judy Sakaki allegations, but every other allegation was kept quiet. Now that the audit has been released, we finally know the real numbers.” Sakaki is the former president of Sonoma State and was allegedly involved in a retaliation scandal against multiple female CSU employees. CSU paid a $600,000 settlement to the women that accused Sakaki’s husband, education lobbyist Patrick Mccallum, of sexual harassment.

The audit notes that a lack of “standardized data collection and analysis across its campuses” is limiting the chancellor’s office from identifying, understanding and analyzing the problem of sexual harassment. I believe that because there is no standard data collection method, legislation should be passed to amend the system-wide problem. A California Senator created a bill to do just that.

California Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, introduced Senate Bill 808 in Feb. 2023 to create a systemwide method of reporting sexual harassment cases to better handle them, as well as to minimize future incidents. The bill was signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom on October 7th.

“The bill is focusing on one aspect: Schools have to report cases and reports to the legislature and on school websites,” said Paul Payne, press secretary for Sen. Dodd. “The audit made us aware of how serious the problem is, and it’s worse than anticipated.”

SB 808 requires that reports and cases of sexual harassment be reported to the Legislature as well as published on a school’s website on or before Dec. 1 of each year. If there was mandatory annual reporting, I believe it would prevent some cases from happening because of extra transparency.

The CSU system will benefit from a more secure and honest report database. Sonoma State has provided me with many opportunities, but there is a system-wide problem that will hopefully be amended by the Cal State Harassment Bill.

 

Donate to Sonoma State Star

Your donation will support the student journalists of Sonoma State University. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
About the Contributor
Olivia Keeler, Editor-in-Chief
Olivia Keeler is a fourth-year communications and media studies major at Sonoma State University.
Donate to Sonoma State Star