Sexual harassment claims should be taken seriously

Guest Columnist and Guest Columnist

I’m not one to provide anecdotal sources in my work, but I’ve reached the moment where enough is enough.

Over the last few weeks someone very dear to me has been receiving harassing messages and notes of a sexual nature.

When this person finally reported one of these instances — a note card under the door with a sexually explicit message with an unidentifiable substance on it — nothing was done to figure out who was behind this.

The police were not called. A counselor was not offered.

On April 23, the same person received an anonymous message on a social media site asking if they still lived in the same room.

I repeat, enough is enough. The University does provide resources to the victims of sexual harassment, however, these resources cannot be received if the target shies away from confessing.

Sexual harassment remains a serious problem on many college campuses, including here at the University. Several emails of reported sexual assaults have gone out over the fall 2011-spring 2012 year which occurred on or near the campus.

The University’s Sexual Harassment Policy (found here: defines sexual harassment: “Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when: A. submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment or academic pursuits, B. submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment or academic decisions affecting such individual, or C. such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s employment or academic performance or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive working or educational environment.”

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 define sexual harassment in academics: “sexual harassment is unwelcome behavior of a sexual nature that interferes with a student’s ability to learn, study, work or participate in school activities.”

According to the National Organization for Women’s website ( sexual harassment is commonplace on college campuses with one report detailing 62 percent of college students the victims of an affront (1/3 of those instances being physical contact).

NOW also explains that while men are the majority of harassers women (1/3) admit to some forms of harassment (generally verbal). The difference in severity between the sexes is that offending males are often physical and more damaging in the types of sexual harassment they commit.

There are certain types of students who are more likely to be harassed than others.

Women have a much higher percentage (65 percent) of reported harassment than men (35 percent). LGBT students are also more likely to be the targets of sexual harassment with nearly 75 percent reporting incidents.

Despite the high numbers of sexual harassment reported in the survey referenced here, only 7 percent of victimized students reported the affront to a faculty member or other college employee, according to the survey. The study finds that the under-reporting of sexual harassment is due to the lack of awareness about resources available to aid the harassed student.

With the low level of self-reporting, when somone makes a claim they have been sexually harassed the issue should be taken very seriously.

With the lack of response illustrated by the opening anecdote I wonder how many other valid claims get thrown to the wayside with no follow-through by those not properly doing their jobs. For those who report an incident, help is out there; a failure to aid in administering that help is unacceptable.

I would like to end by saying that if you have ever been personally mistreated, or know someone who has, reach out for help by contacting the The Office of Equity & Diversity located in 303 McFall Center by calling (419) 372-8472 or by seeking help from the Bowling Green City Police (contact information here: The only way to end a problem is to speak out against it.

If you’ve felt victimized I urge you to let your voice be heard.

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