Students spoke out at a mid-November UC Regents meeting, demanding that Regent Norman Pattiz resign or be removed from his position. Pattiz still serves as a Regent, despite accusations of sexual misconduct that have surfaced over the past year. After the meeting concluded, protests commenced, with students holding signs that said, “Take a Stand, Not a Stance,” “#StatisticsAreStories” and “UC Is Toxic.”
During the public comments section of the meeting, held on Nov. 15 at the UC San Francisco Mission Bay campus, students gave speeches to the Board of Regents, detailing their frustrations over Pattiz’s continued employment with UC Regents.
“Since Betsy Devos’ efforts to repeal Title IX, UC President Janet Napolitano has promised to stick to the zero tolerance policy of sexual assault and violence,” said Idalys Perez, a second-year at UC Berkeley and representative for the Associated Students of the University of California (ASUC). “These standards are expected to hold every student, every worker and every regent that is a part of the UC accountable.”
Perez then brought up the allegations against Pattiz, asking, “Where is the accountability?”
“Eighty percent of college women don’t report their experience of sexual assault or harassment, and it’s because of situations like this, where women’s experiences are disregarded and men do not face consequences for their actions,” said Kylie Murdock, a member of the legislative department of the ASUC. She also addressed UC President Napolitano directly and criticized her handling of the situation.
Sexual misconduct has been a growing concern in the UC system, as 19 employees have been found guilty of sexual harassment since 2011. In March, President Napolitano announced new updates to the UC sexual harassment policy.
“If you claim to be committed to this issue, then why have you not fired a man who has been accused by multiple women of sexual harassment?” said Murdock. “We talk about not tolerating this sort of behavior from men in Hollywood and from our current president, so why should we tolerate it from a Regent? You represent students, and we no longer want Regent Pattiz to represent us.”
Pattiz is the founder of radio networks Westwood One and PodcastOne. He was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame and received the Giants of Broadcasting Award from the Library of American Broadcasting. He has been a UC regent since 2001 and is chair for the National Laboratories Subcommittee. Pattiz was reappointed by Gov. Jerry Brown in 2014. His current term will expire in 2026.
In Nov. 2016, actress and comedian Heather McDonald released a recording from that past May of a conversation between McDonald and Pattiz while the former was taping a memory foam bra commercial at the latter’s PodcastOne studio. McDonald can be heard on the recording telling Pattiz that he is making her nervous. Pattiz then replies, “Wait a minute, can I hold your breasts? Would that help?” to which McDonald repeatedly replies, “No.” Pattiz then refers to his hands, calling them “memory foam.”
McDonald and other women who have worked with Pattiz have stated he often made them feel uncomfortable and commented inappropriately on their bodies.
At the time, Pattiz told the Los Angeles Times, “There is no excuse for any such comments or making anyone feel uncomfortable. If I did that, I sincerely apologize, and it will be a valuable learning experience.”
However, Pattiz has since refused to resign stating that the comments caught on tape were a “bad joke” and not sexual harassment. He claims allegations against him only surfaced to create controversy and gained traction because of the current and ongoing accusations surrounding men in Hollywood and the political sphere..
Since then, the University of California Student Association (UCSA) has passed two resolutions in January and October of 2017, calling for Pattiz’s dismissal. They demanded that Pattiz be stripped of all the rights and responsibilities of a regent and that he be banned from all UC property, except for regents meetings.
Around the time McDonald released the recording, Pattiz was also engaged in a lawsuit, in which he was accused of pointing a loaded gun at former employee Raymond Hernandez to force him to falsify data. Hernandez also stated he was fired for complaining. Pattiz denied this allegation, stating Hernandez was fired for stealing intellectual property.
“The fact that I’m a law enforcement reserve is well known as I have public service awards in my office,” said Pattiz in a statement at that time. “I didn’t and would never act in the manner that’s been described. I presume this is in response to our letting [Hernandez] know that we are going to sue him. His allegations are absurd.”
Pattiz’s former colleagues have confirmed he carries a gun on his person as a reserve deputy in the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, but corroborated Hernandez’s case, saying Pattiz would sometimes point his gun at others.
ASUC senators Rizza Estacio and Nuha Khalfay also gave speeches during the public comments period.
“You may ask why we are here and why we care so deeply about Regent Pattiz’s alleged crimes,” said Estacio. “It’s because when individuals like Governor Brown and Lieutenant [Gavin] Newsom and cohorts such as the board of regents allow sexual allegation misconducts to fester and remain unaddressed and perpetrators, allegedly or otherwise, unpunished, you set the precedent that sexual harassment, assault and gender-based violence is a minor offense and someone’s inability to recognize consent is secondary to their accomplishments, wealth and accolades.”
Khalfay stressed that the issue is of the “utmost importance” to herself, the ASUC and the UCSA. She also stated that UC students will be in attendance at every regents meeting until Pattiz is removed or resigns.
“We urge you to hold Norman Pattiz accountable to show us in a tangible way that you really do support and prioritize survivors and students that you are appointed to represent. We ask you in the strongest possible terms to take a stand and not just a stance on this issue and if that does not happen I assure you, you will see us next month and every month after that.”
The next UC Regents meeting will take place at UCSF Mission Bay on Jan. 24-25.