Sexual harassment, sexual assault and dating violence are hidden but widespread problems.
It can happen to anyone, regardless of age, gender, race, sexual orientation or socioeconomic status. Chances are that you or someone you know has been a victim.
Nearly two-thirds of American college students are affected by sexual harassment, according to a study released Jan. 24.
The research conducted by Harris Interactive surveyed students ages 18 to 24 and had a sampling error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.
Although men are more likely to commit Harassment than women, women and men are equally likely to be harassed on U.S. college campuses. It appears that many people seem to forget that sexual harassment can happen to anyone. Perhaps the shame and fear that many victims experience make it difficult to reach out and get help.
Researchers found that 62 percent of college students experienced sexual harassment and 32 percent of college students said they were victims of physical harassment. Though the primary forms of harassment that the study cited were associated with noncontact, I certainly believe that any form of harassment is a concern.
It is clear that there is serious problem when students explicitly stated that being sexually harassed made them feel worthless and helpless, yet didn’t report the incidents perhaps due to guilt or embarrassment.
The fact that most students would simply downplay an incident is distressing. The report found that in ‘most cases, students say that they thought it was funny, the other person liked it, or it is ‘just a part of school life.”
Ironically, less than 10 percent of all students report harassment and say that the incident was ‘not a big deal,’ even though they go on to express that it made them feel horrible and vulnerable.
Students are the victims of gestures, cruel words or rumors and inappropriate groping or touching. This shouldn’t be happening.
What is worse is that it has become socially acceptable to violate another individual. Perhaps college students do not fully understand what sexual harassment is and when certain types of interaction are inappropriate.
The most common types of physical harassment include being touched, grabbed or pinched in a sexual way or intentionally brushing up against someone in a sexual way. Flashes of frontal or rear nudity, calling someone gay or lesbian, or a demeaning name regarding their sexuality, spreading sexual rumors about someone are also typical forms of harassment.
All students have the right to learn in an environment that allows them to reach their full potential. Students shouldn’t have to worry about or cope with sexual harassment.
UC Irvine students need to be aware that the university does not tolerate sexually exploitive behavior, which does not constitute sexual assault but which may violate the Code of Student Conduct and result in disciplinary action against the perpetrator.
This behavior includes but is not limited to, attempts to obtain sexual favors through psychological coercion, including threats to embarrass or intimidate the victim (in a way that does not include threat of force).
Perhaps if college students know the campus policy, they will be less likely to harass or be the victims of harassment.
Reut R. Cohen is a second-year English major.
Filed Under: Opinion