Sun. Jan 16th, 2022

Last Monday the Women’s Center held a presentation about sexual harassment on campus which is an issue that is pertinent to colleges and institutions nationwide . The program, which is given once every semester, serves to inform students of what sexual harassment consists of, how they can deal with it, and most importantly, how to prevent sexual harassment from ever occurring.

Barb Schneller, of the Social Equity Office, and Robin Garrett, WCU’s Women’s Center, led the discussion. Garrett explained that the Women’s center is a “confidential, informal resource for this [sexual harassment].” At the center, they are “geared toward providing support, action, and assistance on campus.”

Sexual harassment is any conduct of a sexual nature that is unwelcome and interferes with daily activities of a person’s life.

“Ninety percent of all inappropriate behavior will stop if you speak up,” Schneller said.

The Women’s Center and the Social Equity office are resources any student can turn to if they feel they are being violated.

Garrett and Schneller said that there are different types of sexual harassment, which include hostile environment sexual harassment and quid-pro-quo harassment.

Hostile environment harassment is the most common and consists of an even power level between two people. An example of this is student to student sexual harassment. It can come in several forms such as inappropriate name calling, unwelcome contact, obscene gestures, sexist remarks and others. If this type of harassment occurs, it is best to contact the Office of Judicial Affairs.

Quid-pro-quo harassment refers to “this-for-that” and occurs when one party has more power than the other party. This type of harassment can occur between a faculty member and a student. If a professor sexually harasses a student, it is important to contact the Office of Social Equity; likewise if a faculty member is harassed by a co-worker.

In order to be considered sexual harassment, the behavior must be severe, persistent or pervasive. The goal of the Women’s Center and the Office of Social Equity is to “stop these behaviors before they reach sexual harassment,” Schneller said.

In the 2005-2006 school year, four complaints were reported to the Office of Social Equity. Some years there are no complaints reported, either because the student or faculty member was embarrassed, ashamed or there were no occurrences.

Schneller and Garrett agree that prevention is necessary in dealing with this behavior. They encourage students and faculty to take the sexual harassment online training course offered at http://www.wcupa.edu/_admin/social.equity. The program is designed to help students and faculty deal with harassment and stop it from happening altogether.

If anyone feels that they have been involved in sexual harassment or has questions regarding this type of behavior, The Women’s Center, The Office of Social Equity or the Office of Judicial Affairs can be contacted and will be available for a confidential talk.

Sexual harassment is not tolerated on this campus and if this behavior does occur; it is not the victim’s fault.

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