SANTA CRUZ, Calif. - Multiple accusations of sexual harassment and sexual assault are coming to light at the University of California Santa Cruz.
Officials told KION they are "deeply troubled by the allegations of sexual misconduct."
The allegations are being brought into the spotlight, as several individuals have shared their personal accounts as part of a public statement making its rounds on the internet.
The statement names the professor as Gopal Balakrishnan, with the History of Consciousness Department.
The public statement opens with: "We are writing this statement to let our community know that Gopal Balakrishnan has a pattern of using his position of power as a professor and influential academic to intimidate, harass, and even assault young women and gender nonconforming people. We have heard multiple first-person and witness accounts, and are including here statements describing such behavior. These statements are not all of the accounts of which we are aware. They simply represent the experiences of people who were willing to tell their stories. They describe direct acts against individuals, as well as a broader culture of misogyny and enabling. We want to affirm our support for the authors of the statements, as well as the UCSC students who have organized on their campus to bring GB’s behavior to light."
It goes on to tell seven stories accusing Balakrishnan of sexually propositioning multiple individuals.
School officials said if these allegations are true, they represent a serious violation of campus policy.
According to a statement school officials said, "Our Title IX Office and Academic Personnel Office are aware of the allegations and are asking anyone with additional information to come forward so that we can investigate. Sexual misconduct has no place at UC Santa Cruz, and we seek to hold perpetrators accountable."
Gopal tells KION in a statement, "A few days ago I was sent a public statement accusing me of sexual misconduct and providing what alleges to be accounts (all anonymous) of encounters with me. I cannot determine who the accusers are, nor can I identify any of the encounters on the basis of these accounts. I would like to add that I have never done anything resembling the one, more lurid narrative of an encounter with me. As for the other accounts, they seem to stem from gossip the accuser has heard about me. I believe the same people behind the campaign of public humiliation this spring did not get very far through the Title IX process, so they have issued this public statement in the hope that, in the current context of national indignation around the issue of sexual harassment, they might have a better shot."
He tells us he does not know the individuals who organized this campaign as students but he has been acquainted with them through the political scene. He says, "I do know that they are dangerous, nihilistic individuals who look at these take downs as political performance art. I am concerned about physical attacks as do other who speak out on my behalf."
The photo below was taken on campus in a bathroom last year. We want to reiterate the claims made in the photo have not been substantiated. Officials say they were aware of the graffiti. "We take allegations seriously and alert campus authorities including Title IX when we see something such as this. The university is limited in how it can respond when it receives anonymous reports or reports that do not identify anyone who reportedly experienced the harassment or assault. We clean up all graffiti," says Spokesman Scott Hernandez-Jason.
The public statement has drawn 137 signatures so far, from people in support of those making the allegations.
UCSC said, "Faculty members are entrusted to teach, mentor, and lead our students. The alleged actions are against everything we stand for at UC Santa Cruz."
The Chronicle of Higher Education has also taken notice of the story and published their own article.
KION's Linda Zhang will have the latest at 5 and 6 p.m.