UCLA community rallies behind McAllister Olivarius clients, protesting return of professor accused of harassment


Both the Los Angeles Times and Chronicle of Higher Education report that UCLA students, alumni and faculty have mounted protests over the university's handling of complaints regarding Gabriel Piterberg—a history professor who, according to a lawsuit we filed on behalf of graduate students Nefertiti Takla and Kristen Glasgow, sexually harassed them over several years. They have brought Title IX claims against UCLA for failing to handle their case properly. On Wednesday, more than 75 people marched to protest the way UCLA has treated Takla and Glasgow's complaints—which included repeated harassment by way of sexual comments and Piterberg "pressing himself against their bodies and forcing his tongue into their mouths," the LA Times reports.

In 2014 the university quietly reached a settlement with Piterberg that was released on Wednesday, prompting outrage on campus. The settlement, the Chronicle of Higher Education reports, was forged to "avoid the cost, uncertainty and inconvenience of an administrative proceeding." Despite including a fine, a suspension for an academic quarter without pay, and sexual harassment training for Piterberg, the settlement did not include any admission of guilt or concede that the allegations were accurate. Further, Piterberg would be allowed to return to campus after is suspension—which he was permitted to defer "until the spring of 2015 while he served as a fellow at the University Institute in Italy—a move that lessened the impact of the sanctions."

Both students and faculty hold that his return to the department would promote a dysfunctional work environment, and have criticized the secrecy of settlement. Further, the LA Times explains, a protest letter from over 65 graduate students asserts that "the administration is perpetuating the unsafe and hostile client of our department" in its handling of the Piterberg case, losing the trust and confidence of the UCLA community.