Bellevue College responds to KIRO 7 report

Over the summer of 2018, news broke of a lawsuit against ex-Bellevue College assistant dean, Faisal Jaswal, of Bellevue College.

KIRO 7 released a news segment on Oct. 4, investigating the lawsuit and ongoing issues at Bellevue College. According to the article, KIRO 7 examined over 1,000 documents and claims of sexual harassment by four other women, all made against Jaswal.

In the KIRO 7 article, there is a focus on how the school isn’t handling these issues well. Some people believe the Human Resources department isn’t doing enough. KIRO 7 interviewed a current Bellevue College employee who stated that they feel the school isn’t doing enough to protect and ensure a safe work and learning environment. “It was harassment. It went to Human Resources, and nothing ever happened,” one anonymous Bellevue College employee said to KIRO.

The president of Bellevue College, Jerry Weber, released a series of emails to express his concerns and campus resources for those struggling. “I am sorry for additional distress this story may have caused. This email outlines preliminary steps we are taking to process, heal, and move forward as a community,” Weber wrote.

In one email, Bellevue College is working on a Campus Response Planning Team to help ensure healing and training are made possible for students and staff.

Bellevue College has received a $300,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women. This grant is to provide training around harassment, sexual assault and discrimination. Furthermore, this all helps to ensure there is a framework to coordinate with campus responses to associated partners of the Bellevue Police Department, LifeWire and King County Sexual Assault Resource Center, or KCSARC.

LifeWire and KCSARC are long term partners with Bellevue College who assist in educating and providing additional resources for the community of Bellevue College who have been impacted by sexual assault.

Jerry Weber, president of Bellevue College, believes KIRO did not completely report what he said in an interview with them.

In response to this, Weber sent out an email following the KIRO article, stating, “I want to make it clear that everyone at this college has the right to have their complaints heard, thoroughly investigated, and then have appropriate steps taken based on the outcomes of the investigation. Hopefully, the steps that are being taken, and will be taken in the future, will ensure that all members of the college community are treated with dignity and respect and protected from retaliation, during all stages of investigations into workplace misconduct.”

KIRO 7 reported that Bellevue College has been recently reviewing and making changes to our anti-discriminatory procedures. Bellevue College released news that “The Board will be conducting its final review of the revamped anti-discrimination policy at its regularly scheduled October meeting.”

Sayumi Irey, executive director of the Social Justice Leadership Institute and interim vice president for diversity at Bellevue College, sent out a campus wide email in late September stating the resources that Bellevue College provides for students and staff.

SJLI is part of the Office of Equity and Pluralism at Bellevue College, which provides support for the students, staff and community of Bellevue College through educational opportunities for all people of color, disabilities, different ethnic heritages, gender identities, orientation and limited financial resources.

Irey stated in an email to Bellevue College faculty and students, “In light of recent controversies appearing in the press, both locally and nationally, Bellevue College would like to reassure you that we do not tolerate any discrimination, including sexual harassment, on our campus.”

Links online to Title IX along with contact information for reporting these incidents were the top three ways listed. Public Safety, including Bellevue Police Department and Emotional Support Services for students and staff were also provided.

For many, this is an ongoing struggle to understand the high incidents of sexual assault, harassment, and discrimination. Bellevue College is taking an aggressive approach towards ensuring that BC community, students and faculty are protected, safe and able to access any and all resources.