California Legislature introduces legislation to combat sexual harassment in public colleges.

Proposed by California legislators on Monday, a set of bills aims to tackle sexual discrimination and harassment issues in the state’s higher education institutions.

Championed by Assemblymember Mike Fong, head of the Assembly Higher Education Committee, the 12-bill collection responds to a report from February that highlighted shortcomings in how the University of California, California State University, and California Community Colleges handle Title IX cases, the federal law against sex-based discrimination.

Assemblymember Fong, a Democrat from Monterey Park, emphasized the importance of these bills as a critical step towards enhancing transparency, accountability, and eradicating sex discrimination and harassment on college campuses. Recognizing the ongoing efforts required, Assemblymember Fong expressed confidence in the positive impact these legislative measures will have on the safety and equity of the campus communities. Collaboration between the Legislature and educational institutions in California is key to addressing these critical issues.

The comprehensive 12-bill package includes:

  • AB 810, introduced by Assemblymember Laura Friedman (D-Burbank), mandates the use of UC Davis’ policy for conducting employment verification checks at all public colleges and universities for positions in athletics, academics, and administration to uncover any past substantial misconduct allegations.
  • AB 1790, introduced by Assemblymember Damon Connolly (D-San Rafael), requires CSU to implement the recommendations outlined in a Title IX report conducted by the California State Auditor by January 1, 2026, addressing the system’s current shortcomings in resources and executing Title IX responsibilities.
  • AB 1905, introduced by Assemblymember Dawn Addis (D-San Luis Obispo), outlines guidelines for employee rights during retreat, recommendation letters, and settlements regarding administrators with validated sexual harassment complaints against them.
  • AB 2047, introduced by Assemblymember Fong, proposes the establishment of an independent statewide Title IX office to aid in Title IX oversight and compliance for community colleges, CSU, and UC systems, including the introduction of a statewide Title IX coordinator.
  • AB 2048, introduced by Assemblymember Fong, mandates independent Title IX offices at each community college district and CSU and UC campus.
  • AB 2326, introduced by Assemblymember David Alvarez (D-Chula Vista), proposes the establishment of entities to ensure discrimination-free campus programs, mandating annual reports from community colleges, CSU, and UC on their discrimination prevention efforts to the Legislature.
  • AB 2407, introduced by Assemblymember Gregg Hart (D-Santa Barbara), calls for biennial state audits of community colleges, CSU, and UC systems to evaluate their capabilities in addressing and preventing sexual harassment on campus.
  • AB 2492, introduced by Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin (D-Thousand Oaks), proposes the addition of roles on college campuses to support individuals during the adjudication of sexual harassment complaints.
  • AB 2608, introduced by Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel (D-Encino), would necessitate campuses to offer training on preventing drug-facilitated sexual assaults.
  • AB 2987, introduced by Assemblymember Liz Ortega (D-Hayward), mandates timely updates from community colleges and CSU on sexual discrimination and harassment case outcomes, with a similar request to UC.
  • Senate Bill 1166, introduced by Sen. Bill Dodd, establishes annual reporting requirements for community colleges and CSU on sexual harassment complaint outcomes and campus efforts to prevent sex discrimination, with a similar request extended to UC.
  • SB 1491, introduced by Sen. Susan Talamantes Eggman (D-Hayward), proposes a process for students at private institutions to report discriminatory incidents to the U.S. Department of Education, even if the institution is exempt from Title IX.

In response to recent national and local news regarding mishandled Title IX cases, the proposed bills address the need for reform. With past reports highlighting inadequacies in how the CSU system dealt with various cases, changes are underway, including policy amendments concerning administrators involved in misconduct, who can no longer transition to faculty roles.

Emphasizing the importance of a safe and welcoming learning environment, Lisa Baker, representing the student senate for California Community Colleges, emphasized the prevalence of harassment on college campuses, impacting students’ well-being and academic performance. The enactment of Title IX along with these bills is crucial to ensuring the success of current and future students.

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