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Students concerned with on-campus sexual harassment

By Elizabeth MerinoARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT EDITOR

According to a 2013 Stop Street Harassment nationwide survey, “65 percent of all women had experienced street harassment. Among all women, 23 percent had been sexually touched, 20 percent had been followed and nine percent had been forced to do something sexual.”

Stop Street Harassment is defined on their website as “a nonprofit organization dedicated to documenting and ending gender-based street harassment worldwide through public education and community mobilization.”

“Hofstra does a decent job with making some sort of attempt, however feeble, to help so that women don’t experience so much explicit harassment of any sort. That being said, myself, along with many of the friends I know on campus have been harassed in some form on campus at some point in time. We tend to play some things off as ‘guys just being guys,’ or ‘oh, he’s just drunk’ or my favorite ‘that’s just how he is, that’s how he talks’ ... but in reality, the harassment shouldn’t happen, regardless,” said sophomore English major Taylor Wade.

According to Hofstra’s 2014-2015 Guide to Pride community standards, “sexual harassment is defined as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors and other nonverbal, expressive or physical conduct of a sexual nature when such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s academic performance or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive environment for learning or enjoying other University opportunities, programs and activities.”

Public Safety has not been informed of any major reports concerning catcalling or harassment on campus, according to Director of Public Safety Karen O’Callaghan.

“It is obviously something that is not appropriate and if it was reported, we would investigate, find the person and correct it,” said O’Callaghan.

Hofstra has a strong written policy against sexual harassment, relationship violence, sexual assaults and discrimination of any kind. Based on this policy Hofstra has, “a commitment on the part of our entire community to norms of interpersonal respect ensuring that no individuals are subjected to sexual misconduct, relationship violence or discriminatory harassment.”

Although Hofstra has these policies in place, some students feel as though more can be done to protect women.

“I was recently in a sociology of gender class and there was a student trying to argue that women owe it to someone who catcalls them to acknowledge the person so they don’t risk being followed or experience physical violence. The idea that I could potentially owe anyone who catcalls me is ridiculous, but what’s horrifying is that this line of argument acknowledges that catcalling is just the start to an individual doing something more violent to get a woman’s attention,” said junior women’s studies and sociology major Karla Bradley.

One male student said he witnessed a different kind of catcalling on campus, a type that many might not even consider a form of harassment.

“I’ve seen men turn around and stuff, not really approach the ladies, just really looking,” said junior mechanical engineering major Josh Singh.

Street harassment can be more than just words that are yelled from across a road.

Other instances, as listed in the Pride to Guide Handbook, include unwanted flirtation, propositions of sexual nature and unwelcome sexual comments about clothing.

“You just look dumb doing [catcalling],” said junior television and business major Braidan Halbleib. “It never works and it’s not going to. It’s disrespectful.”

A 2014 U.S. street harassment survey reported that half of respondents said they were harassed beginning at the age of 17.

“I find catcalling to be extremely demeaning. I have been objectified and witnessed the objectification of my peers in various communities that I am apart of… I have been honked at, and yelled at various times on California Ave. when I am on the way to class,” said junior public relations and global studies major Alyssa O’Brien.

According to The Washington Post, many respondents of the 2013 street harassment survey had trouble accurately identifying harassment. These respondents were so used to being publicly sexually harassed that they didn’t even realize it was happening anymore.

“I’ve seen it happen before. It happened to one of my friends… she ignored it and moved on, but it shouldn’t be something so easily ignored,” said freshman electrical engineering major Columbus McKinney.

“First off, even if [catcalling] does not result in violence you are perpetually scared it will. Secondly, you are made to feel objectified and sexualized in a way you did not ask for which is very demeaning. To say that women secretly like it is extremely disrespectful,” said Wade.

A new initiative has begun on campus this semester in attempts to combat these instances. It Ends With Us, started by senior Amanda Korbar, is a campus movement comprised of both men and women coming together to change the culture of sexual harassment, assault and rape at Hofstra.

The movement began with a Facebook page that has since grown to 365 members.

Korbar is working closely with Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs and Title IX Coordinator, Jean C. Peden Christodoulou and Dr. Daniel Rinaldi, a psychologist for the Saltzman Center.

“We care very much about creating a safe and caring campus. I can say that we take respect for all people on Hofstra’s campus so seriously and we want to create an environment where people would feel safe,” said Christodoulou.

Korbar started the movement based on not only the experiences of her friends, but her own experiences as well.

“This is college, sexual violence happens here, and the sooner we start talking about it and make it known that there is zero tolerance, the less it will happen. No one wants to get caught, and if everyone is unafraid to report, if we all stand as one, then we can change this culture,” said Korbar.

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Public Safety Briefs, 12-2-2014