Eleven faculty members at the Berklee College of Music were terminated in the past 13 years for sexual assault, according to an open forum held in early November.
“To everyone who has been harassed or abused at Berklee, I am so sorry,” Roger Brown, the school's president, said at the forum. “I apologize for this institution. It’s unacceptable."
The forum came five days after The Boston Globe published an article which found that multiple students at Berklee have reported "being assaulted, groped, or pressured into sex with their teachers” for years.
Since 2008, at least three faculty members who were accused of sexual misconduct were allowed to “leave quietly,” with one of them even going on to teach at another university. The Globe reported that students who came forward were often pressured to be silent through “financial settlements including gag orders.”
Since the release of the Globe’s investigation, Berklee students have walked out of classes to protest the alleged assaults and the administration's lack of transparency. Over 4000 people signed the online petition at Change.org urging the school to “properly address” the allegations.
Many students disapproved of the college’s response to the investigation, which stated that the administration acts “swiftly and decisively" to remove individuals when they are found to have committed sexual assault.
After hundreds of students marched to the school's concert hall, where the open forum took place, Brown acknowledged that 11 faculty members had been fired since 2004 due to sexual misconduct. Describing the terminations as “not an insignificant number," he pledged to “root out” abusive behavior on campus.
“Today’s dialogue affirms our ongoing commitment to eradicating abuse and harassment,” Brown said. “It is an important step in listening to students, setting a path forward together, and holding each other accountable.”
Following the forum, Brown outlined key actions Berklee plans to take, such as publicly reporting the number of investigations and their outcomes, expanding resources to help students report problems regarding sexual misconduct, and creating a working group focused on preventing sexual assault on campus.
Last year, a task force was formed at Penn in part to combat sexual violence on campus and hold students, particularly those in unrecognized student groups, accountable for violations of University student conduct codes. The task force released a set of recommended policies in April and University officials began implementing them this school year. The most notable policies tightened the requirements for registered social events.
Many students questioned the efficacy of the policies in fostering what Penn President Amy Gutmann called “a campus climate and culture that is free of sexual harassment and sexual violence."