For Kathleen Gutierrez, what was supposed to be a graduate-level education in Tamil literature has turned into a nightmare. She and fellow UC Berkeley student Erin Bennett allege that they have been the targets of persistent sexual harassment from Blake Wentworth, a professor in the department of South and Southeast Asian studies at Berkeley. Tomorrow, the two students intend to file a formal complaint against Wentworth with the state of California. According to The Guardian:
In October, records show, a university investigation concluded that Wentworth violated the college’s harassment policies and made “unwelcome sexual advances” toward her. But more than six months later, the professor has faced no discipline and remains employed at UC Berkeley – with an office two doors away from Gutierrez.
Wentworth, of course, vehemently denies the accusations, and refers to Bennett as a “troubled young woman.” Says Bennett: “I can’t be on campus...I don’t know what graduate school is like without harassment.”
This ongoing incident appears to be part of a larger pattern of negligence and abuse at Berkeley: over 400 pages of disciplinary reports and internal correspondence obtained by The East Bay Times last week revealed that 19 university employees were found to be in violation of the institution’s sexual harassment code since 2011.
“My body is just collapsing under all of this,” Gutierrez told The Guardian, “but…I am so committed to staying, because it just infuriates me to think that anybody else might go through this in the future.”