On Thursday, Dec. 28, University of California Regent Norman Pattiz, who was accused of sexual harassment in October of 2016, announced his resignation from the UC Board of Regents after 16 years of service.
Regent Pattiz is the chairman of the Courtside Entertainment Group, which produces radio shows and podcasts. While filming a bra commercial at Pattiz’s PodcastOne studio in May of 2016, comedian Heather McDonald claimed that Pattiz asked if he could hold her breasts. In October of 2016, McDonald aired his comments on her show “JuicyScoop.” This prompted employees of Courtside to come forth with further accusations of Pattiz committing repeated acts of sexual harassment in the workplace.
In November of 2016, Pattiz told the Los Angeles Times in response to McDonald’s accusation, “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.”
While the accusations were made in 2016, the issue resurfaced in 2017 amid the wave of women who spoke up about their experiences with sexual assault and harassment on a national scale. In November of 2016, students protested outside a Board of Regents meeting, calling for Pattiz’s resignation. Former UCR student Julia Schemmer created a petition, urging for Pattiz to resign due to his comments. In an email to The Highlander, Schemmer stated, “The UC Board of Regents is the board that gets to make policies surrounding sexual harassment, and they shouldn’t have someone who was found with multiple acts of sexual harassment.”
Pattiz claims that his retirement has nothing to do with the allegations against him. In his resignation letter, he did not mention the allegations, and instead stated, “As you know, one of the main reasons I accepted an additional term on the Board was to provide enough time to find a successor at the laboratories and allow for a reasonable transition. The period of transition at the laboratories will end in February, and Regent Ellen Tauscher will assume those duties—I will step away at that time.” The UC Board of Regents did not respond to repeated requests for comment by The Highlander regarding Pattiz’s resignation.
Schemmer, however, believes that the Board of Regents dealt too lightly with the allegations against Pattiz. She wrote, “The fact that it took over a year to get a man found with multiple cases of sexual harassment against him is a disgusting wake up call to the university’s lack of consciousness towards the disconnect between the systemwide administration and the needs and concerns of students.”
When asked how student activism played a part in Pattiz’s resignation, Schemmer said, “I think we kept the conversation going when the Board of Regents found it convenient to brush aside. I hope that this victory, which was completely led by students, leads the way for us to continue to hold the Board of Regents accountable. It’s not enough to have a man caught in the wrong resign over a year of student pressure we need a transparent, accessible and student-friendly UC Board of Regents that advocates for students, staff and faculty, not just their own interests.”
Correction (1/10/18 – 7:40 p.m.): This article originally suggested that Regent Pattiz resigned on Jan. 28. The date has since been updated to the correct date, Dec. 28.