Calif. college removes radio show host after students complained of sexual harassment

CALIFORNIA — Occidental College administrators removeda student who hosts a shock jock-style radio show from the air after studentsfiled sexual harassment complaints against him for comments he made on theshow.The private college in Los Angeles notified Jason Antebi March 12that he could no longer co-host Rant and Rave, a program featured on thestudent-run radio station, because at least two students filed sexual harassmentcomplaints with the school. During the show that elicited thecomplaints, Antebi asked listeners to call in with “rape victimstories” and called student newspaper staff members “stupidretards,” according to an April 2 Los Angeles Timesarticle.Antebi, who is also vice president of the student government,alleges that two of the sexual harassment complaints were filed by rival studentgovernment members who unsuccessfully tried to get him impeached earlier in theyear.Greg Lukianoff, director of legal and public advocacy with theFoundation for Individual Rights in Education, wrote a letter to OccidentalPresident Ted Mitchell on Antebi’s behalf, condemning Antebi’sremoval.“Part of the idea of harassment, when it’s appliedcorrectly, it has to be behavior you’re exposed to against yourwill,” Lukianoff said in an interview April 7. “One of the reasonswhy it never comes up on radio is that you actually have to tune in that’s not the same as being involuntarily exposed tosomething.”He said the students could have stopped what theycalled harassment “simply by shutting off theradio.”Lukianoff said the content of Antebi’s show was fullyprotected by the First Amendment and that the college must abide byCalifornia’s Leonard Law. The law prohibits private colleges from makingor enforcing any rule that would subject a student to disciplinary action forengaging in expression that would be otherwise protected by the First Amendment. “If a columnist for a student newspaper wrote something thatreally offended the administration, and the administration removed thatcolumnist, people would find it very suspect,” Lukianoff said. He said thecollege’s removal of Antebi from the radio show is an analogous situation. The school administration has also shut down the student government forthe rest of the year in an effort to stop its growing contentiousness.“This has been a year of deteriorating effectiveness, increasingcontroversy and mutual recriminations” in student government, Mitchellsaid in a statement to students.Lukianoff said he believes Antebi’sremoval and the suspension of the student government are related. He said thatdissolving the student government is “a chilling move on the part of theuniversity.”Mitchell did not respond to requests forcomment.

Read the text of California’s “Leonard Law” as it applies to private colleges here.