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Campus Safety, Our Top Concern

Rollins does a fantastic job with keeping the school informed especially in regards to occurrences on campus that might put the student body at risk. There was one particular instance where Rollins Campus Safety recently sent out a Timely Notification Bulletin that had a significant amount of the school’s population nervous and thinking. This is in reference to the sexual harassment that happened on the second week of school in front of Ward Hall.

The notification that was sent out painted a simple picture of about six rowdy college boys that were most likely out around campus looking for some fun, however that fun escalated to something that should not have happened. According to the alert one of the six males “latched his hands behind a female student’s back and pressed his face to her chest. After holding her in this position for a few seconds, she pushed him away, cursed at him and he let go. The rest of the male students began laughing, not understanding the seriousness of the situation.”

Of course the main issue in this situation is the actual act of sexual harassment that occurred, but another disturbing problem is that the boys saw nothing wrong with what had occurred. This seems to be a common mind set on college campuses in recent years, and that should no longer be the case.

…it is not just a majority of women that are harassed; an almost equal amount of men have reported to being sexually harassed by their classmates or school faculty members.

According to a study done by AAUW titled “Drawing the Line: Sexual Harassment on Campus,” most sexual harassment is done at private colleges as opposed to public ones. From 2010 to 2012 Campus Safety has reported that 18 counts
of forcible sex offenses have occured on Rollins’ campus. Approximately two-thirds of college students in the United States have been sexually harassed in some way. Also, it is not just a majority of women that are harassed; an almost equal amount of men have reported to being sexually harassed by their classmates or school faculty members. Even though men are harassed almost as often as women, men still do most of harassing.

Sadly, one of the main reasons why sexual harassment happens so frequently is because many do not understand how serious of an issue it is. When questioned by authority figures most students who have sexually harassed someone say they did it because they thought it was funny or that the person being harassed was okay with it.

Since there seems to be much confusion as to what sexual harassment is, many legal and educational officials have created a universal definition that can make sexual harassment more easily understood.

The U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights (OCR) is responsible for interpreting and enforcing Title IX.3 OCR’s guidance on sexual harassment (1997) recognizes two types of sexual harassment in educational institutions: quid pro quo harassment and hostile environment harassment. Quid pro quo harassment involves requests for sexual favors, generally by a school employee to a student, in exchange for some type of educational participation or benefit. Hostile environment harassment entails harassing sexual conduct that is so severe, persistent, or pervasive that it limits a student’s ability to participate in or benefit from educational activities (AAUW Educational Foundation).

As helpful as this definition is it still leaves behind some ambiguity in regards to the forms that sexual harassment may take. 25% of harassed students have reported being touched, grabbed or pinched in a sexual manner. However, it does not have to be a slap on the behind and lewd comment to be considered harassment. A significant amount of sexual harassment happens online or through texting inappropriate messages and sending unwanted pictures.

Rollins recognizes that sexual harassment is one of the unfortunate occurrences that happen on college campuses, but the school has taken it upon itself to help try and limit these actions. For example, during orientation there is a large amount of focus on the rules and protocols the school has in case something like this was to happen. Rollins even has an improv group come and perform a sketch show that aims to inform students about the different ways that sexual offenses can playout. The school also has different departments where students can report sexual misconduct in a safe and anonymous environment that seeks to help the victims.

Realistically sexual harassment will most likely be an occurrence on college campuses, but hopefully by being aware of how frequently it takes place and knowing how to identify it the statistics will significantly decrease. Additionally, the stigma behind being a victim of sexual harassment should completely vanish. No one should feel ashamed of something that they had no control over, and it is up to a united school and faculty body to make sure that this does not happen.