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Morning Brief: Sexual Assault On California’s Campuses Remains A Problem

Powell Library is pictured at the University of California, Los Angeles, in this file photo. (Adolfo Guzman-Lopez/LAist/KPCC)
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Good morning, L.A. It’s Feb. 17.

It’s been nearly seven years since Emma Sulkowicz lugged a mattress around Columbia University in a performance art piece addressing her alleged sexual assault, and putting a fine point on then-rapidly building reports of sexual violence and harassment at American colleges.

California universities were not exempt. In 2014, a state audit examined the practices of responding to and reporting sexual violence at UCLA, UC Berkeley, Cal State Chico, and San Diego State University.

Auditors found all four universities to be lacking, and recommended significant changes. But since then, it seems, little has changed.

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A federally mandated report from UCLA shows that between 2017 and 2019, allegations of sexual assault almost doubled, jumping from 58 reported incidents to 100. At UC Berkeley, 85 incidents were reported in 2017, and 71 were reported in 2019.

My colleague Adolfo Guzman-Lopez reports that state lawmakers haven’t taken all of the recommended steps, either. In 2016, then-California Gov. Jerry Brown declined to mandate annual sexual violence training at both public and private universities. He wrote at the time:

"College campuses are already required to have clear policies and procedures to deal with these reports. The state, in this case, should not have to additionally mandate an annual training schedule for all college employees.”

For some activists, more needs to be done than training employees on how to handle assaults that have already happened.

"It's not enough to just counsel victims,” said Nassim Moallem, who has advocated for better resources at San Diego State. “You need to make sure nobody is being sexually assaulted or raped in the first place."

Keep reading for more on what’s happening in L.A. today, and stay safe out there.

What Else You Need To Know Today

Before You Go … Capturing The Beauty And Struggles Of Black Americans

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Angela Davis, 1972. (Courtesy John Simmons)

John Simmons began taking photographs as a teenager in 1965, the same year the Voting Rights Act was passed, guaranteeing all Black Americans the right to vote.

His current exhibition, "Capturing Beauty," assembles photos and artworks featuring notable figures in the civil rights movement and more everyday moments of life.

A cinematographer, painter and photographer, Simmons said when he first started out, "there weren't that many positive images of Black people and publications unless you were looking at Jet magazine, or Ebony Magazine, or the Chicago Defender newspaper.”

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