Last week on Wednesday, Nov. 27, John Dwyer, dean of UC Berkeley's
School of Law (Boalt Hall) announced his plans to resign as
dean and from the faculty. Chancellor Robert M. Berdahl accepted
the resignation in response to an allegation that he sexually
harassed a law student in December 2000. That individual,
now a Boalt Hall graduate, filed a formal complaint with the
university's Title IX officer dated Oct. 11, 2002; the complaint
was received by the university on Oct. 16. The university
immediately began a formal investigation into the complaint,
and the investigation is continuing.
Below are answers to questions
that have arisen:
Q: What specific complaints
have been received by UC Berkeley?
A: Under law and campus policies, details of the complaint
must be kept confidential. In general, however, the former
student said that following a December 2000 social event
attended by the dean and several law students, Dwyer engaged
in a single instance of sexual contact with her in her apartment.
There is a dispute over what transpired at the apartment,
where they were alone. Dwyer maintains that the sexual encounter,
which both agree did not involve intercourse, was consensual
but was inappropriate on his part. The woman, in her Oct.
11, 2002 complaint to the campus, said she did not consent
and that the incident had a negative effect on her personal
and academic life.
In her letter she requested that
her complaint be treated as a
complaint under the Faculty Code
of Conduct and as a general sexual
Q: How did the university
respond to her complaint?
A: On Oct. 17, the day after
receiving her letter, the administration
launched a confidential investigation
into the incident headed by a
faculty investigator from outside
the law school. Within days conversations
were undertaken with the complainant,
her attorney, the dean and campus
lawyers. In these discussions,
her attorney raised additional
issues not included in the original
complaint, alleging that the campus
was not in compliance with federal
and state law under Title IX,
which addresses sexual harassment
and complaint procedures.
Q: In a press release the lawyer has charged that at
the time of Dwyer's appointment "a group of Boalt Hall students
sent a letter to Chancellor Berdahl expressing their concerns
about Dwyer's sexual behavior, but that the concerns were
not investigated." Is this true?
A: No. The chancellor did receive
a letter from Boalt Hall student
groups, but it made no reference
to Dwyer’s sexual conduct.
Q: Prior to her formal complaint,
did the student contact the campus
about her concerns?
A: Yes. She said she spoke with
three members of the law faculty
and met with the campus's Title
IX officer. Her discussions with
the faculty members occurred in
the semester following the December
2000 incident. She did not file
a complaint at that time.
Later, on May 23, 2002, days
before she graduated, she visited
the campus's Title IX officer
and requested information on sexual
harassment policies and procedures.
She declined to give her full
name, but explained what had occurred
in December 2000 and said it involved
a dean at the university.
She was told that under campus
policy when someone is accused
by name of sexual harassment,
the Title IX office is obligated
to launch a formal investigation.
She declined at that time to name
the individual. She chose not
to file a complaint.
At the meeting with the Title
IX officer she expressed her concerns
about retaliation if she filed
a complaint. She was told that
UC Berkeley has very strong policies
against retaliation and was informed
what steps to take if she believed
The woman was given in writing UC Berkeley's Title IX policy
on sexual harassment and complaint resolution procedures.
policy is online or can be found by typing "sexual harassment"
into the Berkeley home page search form.
The student also was informed
of the Faculty Code of Conduct
and the rights of the accused
under university policy. The following
day, according to the Title IX
officer, the officer telephoned
her and provided more detailed
Q: The complainant’s attorney
has charged that the campus tried
to keep the issue quiet. Is this
A: Under UC Berkeley policy,
the campus attempts to reach a
resolution that is agreeable to
both sides, is consistent with
the Faculty Code of Conduct, and
that protects the privacy of all
involved. Dwyer had sought a confidential
resolution. That request was under
discussion with the complainant's
lawyer when Dwyer resigned, as
word of the incident was becoming
known at the law school. The campus
has kept the identity of the former
Q: What further action is
UC Berkeley taking?
A: John Dwyer has chosen to resign
from the university voluntarily,
citing a serious error in judgment.
Separation from the university
is the most severe sanction that
would have resulted from a finding
of faculty misconduct under the
Faculty Code of Conduct. Thus
no further personnel action will
The campus is investigating the
specific procedures and actions
taken related to this complaint
to ensure that Title IX policies
The university will review the
effectiveness of its sexual harassment
policies and education for students,
staff, faculty and administrators.
Currently, deans and department
chairs each year are given information
on sexual harassment policies.
Further, the Title IX officer
provides additional training on
request to any member of the campus
community and in a typical year
will conduct 70 to 80 training
All students receive sexual harassment
policy information annually in
"Safety Counts," a handbook on
campus safety and security. And
at Boalt Hall, law students receive
information on sexual harassment
policies from the school’s Dean
of Students office.