“How do gender imbalances and power dynamics affect my work environment?”

“What are the experiences of underrepresented individuals in my field?”

“What does it mean to be an active bystander?”

“How can I join in on the conversation?”

Virginia DuplessisThese are all questions that Virginia Duplessis, Assistant Director for Sexual Assault Prevention in the PATH to Care Center (formerly the Confidential Care Advocates Office), encourages graduate students to ask themselves.

Amid growing nationwide concern about the prevalence of sexual violence and sexual harassment on university campuses, UC Berkeley has announced plans to invest an additional $2.5M toward strengthening its prevention, response, and support programs. New staff will be added in the Office for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination (OPHD), which handles Title IX complaints, and the Office of Student Conduct, which manages and supports discipline and resolutions when students are involved in complaints.

The campus will also make serious investments to expanding prevention and training programs for students, faculty, and staff, rolling out in-person trainings for all senior academic and administrative staff and launching new awareness and training programs for incoming students. For the first time, beginning with the incoming Fall 2016 cohort, all incoming graduate and undergraduate students will take part in live, in-person sexual violence and sexual harassment prevention education programs. Visit the SVSH education requirement website for more information.

Central to the prevention and support efforts are the staff in the PATH to Care Center (PATH stands for Prevention, Advocacy, Training, and Healing). Their mission is to provide support services and advocacy for survivors and their allies, as well as to promote prevention education and initiatives towards campus cultural transformation.

One of the new staff additions in the PATH to Care Center will be a Prevention Educator who is devoted entirely to graduate student issues and concerns — those they may face as mentors and instructors for undergraduate students, as trainees dependent on positive relationships with their advisors, or as peers and colleagues witnessing harassment in the workplace. The Prevention Educator’s goal is to inform graduate students of their options and to give them the knowledge and skills to help prevent and intervene effectively.

Duplessis recognizes the need to have graduate student participation at all levels, from serving on the Student Advisory Board to hosting programs to becoming peer educators.

“If grad students have ideas about research they’d like to do or events they want to plan, we are happy to partner up and lend support,” she explains. With the added staff capacity, “we want to focus on outreach, finding champions and allies in all departments, and making sure graduate students have the the information, training, and resources they can use on campus and beyond.”

In addition to these resources for improving support, prevention and response services, the campus also announced its newly constituted Chancellor’s Committee on Sexual Violence and Sexual Assault, charged with making policy recommendations to increase efficiency, transparency, and fairness in complaint resolution and sanctioning for all campus constituencies.


For more information about the PATH to Care Center, accessing on- and off-campus support resources (for both survivors and those helping them), and understanding reporting options at the campus, see the Survivor Support & Prevention Education website. To get involved, email pathtocare@berkeley.edu or call 510-642-1988. 


Categories: July 2016, Student Life