Over a dozen UCLA students gathered in Paulley Pavilion to protest sexual harassment on campus during a welcome ceremony for incoming freshman on Saturday, April 15.
Members of Bruins Against Sexual Harassment and United Auto Workers 2865, the union that represents academic student workers across all University of California campuses, chanted "stop protecting sexual harassers" and "stop protecting Piterberg," the Daily Bruin reported.
The fifteen protestors unraveled banners that read "#firepiterberg" when UCLA Undergraduate Students Association Council President Danny Siegal began his address. Within five minutes, they were removed by Pauley Pavilion security staff, according to reports. They handed out flyers outside of the building as guests exited.
Chancellor Gene Block's annual University Welcome is held on Bruin Day every year to congratulate incoming UCLA freshman. The protestors' objective was to inform prospective students and their families about sexual harassment cases on campus.
Nefertiti Takla and Kristen Glasgow, both graduate students in history, accused professor Gabriel Piterberg of sexual harassment and sued UCLA in June 2015 for improperly handling the issue, alleging officials discouraged them from making a formal complaint. The UC Board of Regents settled the suit in September 2016, and awarded one student $350,000 and the other $110,000. They also agreed to provide one of the students with a dissertation fellowship in her final year of graduate school.
Piterberg resigned from his position as director of the Center for Near Eastern Studies in May 2015, but was allowed to resume teaching upon reaching a settlement with UCLA in February 2016. It stated that Piterberg could not contact Takla or be romantically involved with students and ordered him to pay the Regents $3,000.
In light of the controversy, UCLA hired a new Title XI coordinator, who students and staff are "encouraged to report all incidents to" and organized a peer review committee that will oversee sanctions for any faculty member who violates the UC Policy on Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment, according a statement.