Due to an elevated awareness on campus, West Chester University has begun to plan an open forum for students and other members of the university community to discuss the topic of sexual harassment.Barbara Schneller of the social equity office has been with the uni-versity for eight years and despite the increased awareness, she said that the actual amount of cases involving sexual harassment hasn’t had a spike recently.
When talking about the statistics, Schneller said that every year there is a range of zero to four incidents involving professors and students. But the number is actually higher between two students. Those statistics are published in The Quad every fall.
Currently, West Chester does not have a zero tolerance policy for sexual harassment. But they do take it very seriously. “Sometimes training is proficient. Its not as simple as a joke and you’re fired,” Schneller said.
However, she wanted to make sure that all students know that the university takes sexual harassment very seriously. That is part of why the discussion program is being organized, she said.”To make sure everyone is aware of the sexual harassment policy and if you have a concern who to bring it to,” said Schneller.
The format of the discussion has not been worked out completely, but it will have a discussion group element as well as an open forum.
At the discussion, there will be faculty members to help facilitate. Those faculty members have been nominated by the deans of their respective departments, and the nomination letters have just been sent out. The faculty members who choose to accept the nomination will be trained to facilitate.
The forum is set to begin in mid to late February. If students have any concerns about sexual harassment, Schneller said that they students should feel free to talk to her about the concerns. “We take sexual harassment very seriously,” she said.