San Francisco Foghorn
MARCH 5, 2009
Many Sexually Harassed, Few Report Incidents
with the OCR a student can mail or faxa letter, ll out the OCR’s DiscriminationComplaint form, or use the OCR’s elec-tronic complaint form,” said Guilfoile.Agencies including the OCR and theDepartment of Education are workingdiligently to protect students from sexualharassment; however, it is not society orthe government that decides if behav-iors are harassment, it is the individual.“What’s key with sexual harassment isit’s ‘unwanted’ so the person has to makethe claim that it’s unwanted,” said Orio.
Universities have written policies to pro-tect students from such actions, and areattempting to provide their students withthe vital knowledge and resources to deal with harassment.
Administrators at USF say they aremaking strides to raise awareness of sex-ual harassment and that the necessary re-sources are available to students. Orio said,“When we do any type of training on say,sexual assault, we know that for every onereport, there’s many others that go unre-ported.” Orio explained that USF focuseson educating students, especially rst yearstudents, about where to go and who totalk to, but the students have to be recep-tive also. “We’ve tried diﬀerent things. Ithink some things have gotten better thanother things, I don’t know if it has aﬀectedthe entire community yet,” said Orio.Although USF administration may be-lieve the institution’s resources are suﬃ-cient for students to deal with sexual mis-conduct, they appear focused on trainingand advising employees rather than edu-cating students, where the real problemslie. For instance, all faculty are required totake an online sexual harassment aware-ness course, similar to the AlcoholEducourse incoming students must take. “Asour training eﬀorts have taken root, whichincludes how to communicate concerns,more individuals have come forward,” saidMaye-Lynn Gon-Soneda, assistant Hu-man Resources director.Gon-Soneda said students shouldknow where they can report incidentsabout sexual harassment. However, somestudents and resident advisors agree thatmany students don’t. When sexual harass-ment victim Elizabeth Smith was asked if she reported her experience, she shruggedand said, “No, I didn’t really know what todo, or where to go.”According to Debbie Lee, senior vicepresident of Family Violence PreventionFund in San Francisco, “more often thannot, sexual assault happens between people who know each other.” She explained that when people are acquaintances or havebeen friendly, they often feel it is theirright to take the next step. “We need tocreate an environment where people areencouraged to come forward and whenthey do, the victims need to be believedand supported,” said Lee.Students, faculty, and staﬀ of USF have various denitions of sexual harassment,explanations of how people respond to it,and ideas as to what inuences those be-haviors.
Department Chair of Gender andSexualities Studies Bernadette Barker-Plummer said she thinks sexual harass-ment at USF is “quite pervasive.” “In my time at USF (14 years), many female stu-dents have talked to me about men seriously harassing them in some way, from insistentcalling and following, to more general callsand comments on the streets.” She said thatfemale students in her gender studies classeshave often said their lives are much diﬀer-ent from those of their male peers becauseof the small every day harassments.
Orio said she thinks the term ‘sexual ha-rassment’ is very broad, and that many peo-ple experiencing harassment don’t realize it.She said she believes students don’t reportsexual harassment for reasons including“embarrassment, time, will the people be-lieve me, do I want to go through this again,do I want to have to talk about it.” Orio alsosuggested that students don’t come forwardbecause they aren’t convinced others willsupport them or agree that it is actually ha-rassment.Natalie Gomez, a third year residentadvisor at USF last spring, said she is notsurprised that young women dismiss harass-ment experiences. “�ere’s a certain level of apathy with sexual harassment, people feellike it’s commonplace, [because] it’s acceptedin culture.” Some students think they don’thave the right to complain and should in-stead accept the behavior. Gomez said many students are afraid of judgments that mightbe placed on them if they attempt to speak out against sexual harassment.During her years as a resident advisor,Gomez had many students come to her totalk about being sexually harassed. How-ever, many of them did not want to reportor release the information to a supervisor orstaﬀ, because the incidents involved drugsand/or alcohol and they didn’t want to getin trouble. Jane is a perfect example of a stu-dent who fears reporting sexual harassmentto authorities, because drugs and/or alcohol were involved.“We try to educate around that you can’tconsent to sex if you’re intoxicated, that’s notconsensual sex. But I don’t really think that’sknown or thought about, so people can ndthemselves in situations where they actually didn’t consent, even if they thought they didor somebody thought one did,” said Orio, who knows there are grey areas when itcomes to understanding sexual harassment.Vice President of University Life Mar-garet Higgins was interviewed last week for some answers regarding the recent ac-quaintance rape/assault on campus. Many students have voiced concerns and fears of reporting sexual assault to authorities whendrugs or alcohol are involved. Higgins said,“�e consequences of the harassment or as-sault usually far outweigh the consequencesof another violation of the student code of conduct.” Higgins stressed the importanceof reporting sexual harassment or assault.“While I do not condone drug and/or alco-hol abuse- the focus of the investigationand charges is usually placed on the ha-rassment or assault.”“I hope all of our students- regardlessof personal consequence- would reportany case, or even suspected case, of sexualharassment and/or assault,” said Higgins.“�e consequences of not reporting canaﬀect not only the student but the entirestudent community.”“Most of us know or feel when a situ-ation is turning bad or dangerous, but we sometimes override that instinct,especially when we are young, we wantto seem cool or hip,” said Barker-Plum-mer. However, Barker-Plummer believesthere is nothing to be lost in reportingharassment, and the student will only gain self-respect and safety by taking ac-tion.Resident advisor Gomez said shealso thinks that students are unaware of the resources that are available to themif they are sexually harassed. “Whetherthey [students in the dorms] know itor not, we [resident advisors] are a re-source,” said Gomez.In an attempt to educate students, theUniversity provides every incoming stu-dent with violence prevention resourcesand a copy of the Fogcutter, the studenthandbook, which explains the sexual ha-rassment policy. Students receive this in-formation about sexual harassment dur-ing orientation, but Orio acknowledgedthat a lot of information gets thrown atstudents during that time, and the num-ber of students who actually sit down toread the information is probably small.Orio said students often don’t wantto hear about assault, or harassment, oranything negative. She noted that stu-dents have an attitude of “that’s not go-ing to happen to me,” so they tune outduring orientation.
Although students say that they donot know where to go or who to speak to, for the most part the resources andinformation exist. A concerned studentcan go to the Dean of Students Oﬃce, where a student resource team has beenset up as extra support for students. �isadditional resource is someone who “cansit down and talk with them, advocatefor them, and go to intake meetings withthem,” said Orio.Orio supervises a full-time coordina-tor of Judicial Aﬀairs, who trains andadvises hearing oﬃcers about sexualharassment. �rough either in-persontraining or an online tutorial, faculty andstaﬀ are given a basic knowledge aboutsexual harassment and California law. �e training addresses how to proceed if somebody approaches them with a sex-ual harassment concern, where to referthem, and other steps they should take.“We rely on ongoing education of faculty and staﬀ to serve as early warning systemsto prevent and correct sexual harassment,”said Gon-Soneda.Resident advisors attend sexual harass-ment training in the summer, where forthree weeks outside sources speak to themabout such issues; they also attend a crisisissues seminar, and learn how to deal withthe issue of sexual harassment and its af-termath.Orio said, “Safety is one of the biggestneeds, and how can we expect someoneto perform well academically, socially, orpersonally if those basic needs aren’t beingmet.”Students may choose to seek supportor report an incident of sexual harass-ment; however, that does not change theemotional toll that the harassing behaviorhas on their academic experience. Studentsexperiencing sexual harassment, speci-cally in the classroom, might feel uncom-fortable there, nd it hard to concentrate,or skip class and study groups to avoid theharasser.
Jane Dixon, the student who had thelewd experience outside her freshmandorm, has endured many more experiencesof harassment, none of which she reported.In one case, Jane felt threatened by the ha-rasser, and said whenever she saw him oncampus she never made eye contact andtried to avoid him. “When I told peopleabout it a few people were like ‘that’s notcool, that really sucks.’” But many of herfriends dismissed her fears, telling her“that’s just his personality.” Jane was ec-static when he transferred schools, but wasequally disheartened by her friends’ lack of understanding during a diﬃcult time.Elizabeth said the comments made her very uncomfortable and made it diﬃcultto stay focused. “I would usually laugh orblow it oﬀ, because I didn’t want to haveany more conversation with him than wasabsolutely necessary,” said Elizabeth.Gender studies professor Barker-Plum-mer said that experiencing sexual harass-ment has extremely negative aﬀects ona student’s academic experience. “It canundermine her focus, make her afraid andstop her from pursuing her life.” Jane Dixon seems resigned to living with unwanted sexual attention, and herreaction is representative of many young women.“[Stuﬀ] like that happens all the time,and you just have to blow it oﬀ. You haveto like give it up that you’re a decently at-tractive person, and there are always goingto be…men,” said Jane.Many students avoid repoting sexualharassment because they dont think it’s abig deal, don’t know who to report it to, ordon’t want the drama of making a publicaccusation. “Unless we deal with it, it won’tchange,” said Lee. “Instead of sweepingissues under the rug, by reporting sexualharassment, the community is made awareand people can seek the help they need.”Gomez, the veteran resident advisorsaid, “It takes bravery inside the individual,I understand that it’s a hard situation; butit’s not necessarily for you, to do somethingabout it, but for the rest of the community and for the health of the community.”then process their paperwork and mark thechosen rooms with big Xs. �is tedious pro-cess took approximately three or four daysto accommodate freshmen, sophomoresand upperclassmen that signed housingcontracts to live in on-campus housing.Now, after receiving their lottery number,students can reserve their room online. Inthe future, they will even be able to decide which side of the room they prefer and if they would like their bed lofted.A negative housing situation can ruina student’s impression and college experi-ence. �e system was implemented to im-prove service with ORL and to cut downon roommate conicts. Nygaard said thatone feature of the new system is the proleapplication. �is application allows stu-dents to create a personal prole, similar toFacebook, MySpace and other social net- working Web sites, which other studentscan peruse to nd common interests. Aftercreating a prole, a student can search forother students whose proles match as-pects of their own. When a student spotscompatible people, he/she can save theirproles and view them later and comparethem. �e system provides a percentage in-dicating how closely other people’s prolesmatch a student’s. Interestingly, Nygaardsaid that studies have shown that room-mates who are most compatible are thosethat share similar tastes in music.In addition to creating a personal pro-le, students can make housing paymentsthrough the electronic system, create ascreen name to chat with other studentsand sign housing contracts. In the past, stu-dents have expected ORL to match them with a compatible roommate. However,the electronic housing system places thisburden on the students. Nygaard said withthis system, “Students take responsibility early on to nd roommates.” �e proleand chat features prompt students to think about nding a roommate long before thehousing selection process begins.As of last week, 30 incoming fresh-men and 700 students total have loggedinto the new system to apply for housing,search for a roommate or see which roomsare available. On Feb. 12, the rst day thatthe electronic system was made availableto students, the site crashed because toomany students had attempted to log in atthe same time. Nygaard said the system isadolescent and ORL is still working outthe errors. �e system also has the capabil-ity to generate reports that will aid ORL inmaking data driven decisions. For example,the data derived from the new system canlet ORL know how many sophomores areplanning to live on campus and they canplan accordingly.Nygaard hopes that the new system willhelp “create an eﬀective environment” forstudents to learn and socialize at USF. Hesaid, “We [ORL] are here to serve out stu-dents.”If students have problems accessingand using the new electronic system, they should contact ORL directly at extension6824, or stop by the ORL oﬃce in PhelanHall. �e system can be accessed by log-ging into USF Connect and clicking onUSFrooms under the student tab.
USFrooms TakesThe Hassle Out of Housing Process
When most people hear the word“February,” they think about Valentine’sDay, owers, and hearts. However, Febru-ary is also Black History Month, a timefor all races to come together to appreci-ate the history and the future of African-American people.Each year at USF, the Black StudentUnion holds a variety of entertaining, ed-ucational and culturally enriching eventsin celebration of Black History Month.BSU Vice-President of Internal Af-fairs, Halimah Najieb-Locke said, “Black History Month is a time for all of Amer-ica, and the world, to reect on the inu-ence African Americans have had on thiscountry’s development and the key role we play in the direction the world is go-ing. It is also a time to pay our respectsas a people to those who have passed who were in the struggle to gain our rights asa people.”On Feb. 26, BSU held the 2009 Black Cultural Dinner as the nal event of theBlack History Month celebration. �eevent was very popular among USF stu-
Cultural Dinner Culminates Month of African-American Heritage
dents; members of BSU had to bring inadditional tables and chairs during theevent because of the large number of at-tendees.Politics Professor James Taylor gave anoverview of the San Francisco FillmoreDistrict and the rich history of politics,culture, and jazz that thrives in the Fill-more. �e dinner was comprised of warmspinach salad, catsh po’boys, buttermilk chive mashed potatoes, roasted brusselssprouts, and USF alumnus Preston Wal-ton’s personal recipe for chicken and an-douille gumbo.After the delicious feast, ManagingPartner Monetta White and ExecutiveChef David Lawrence of the restaurant1300 Fillmore spoke about their experi-ence doing business in the historic Fill-more neighborhood. �ey held an opendiscussion forum describing the currentenvironment of the Fillmore District andthe revitalization of the area. Junior psychology major, ElizabethQuintero, who attended the Black Cul-tural Dinner, said, “I have lived in the Bay Area my whole life and always known of the crime in the Fillmore District, but af-ter today I am glad to have been informedof how things are changing and being re- vitalized in such a historic area.” White and Lawrence’s restaurant givesback to the community through commu-nity service. �ey use their upscale restau-rant to disprove the negative stereotypesof the area and help return the Fillmoreto its roots and times of prosperity.Lawrence describes his cuisine as“soul food made in a French technique.”He treated all members of the audienceto a delicious dessert of caramelized ap-ple bread pudding with vanilla bean icecream and candied pecans. Junior Johnny Barajas, who attendedthe event, said, “�e event was put on well and gave a terric and in-depthoverview of Black History Month. I willdenitely attend next year.”After the event concluded, Najieb-Locke said, “I would like to say that Black History Month is not just a time to pay homage to our forefathers, but a time togain inspiration from their strength andmove forward in our futures as powerfulmen and women who can eﬀectuate im-portant, and irreplaceable change to this world.”ORL:
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Black Student Union President Courtney Ball and Politics Professor James Taylorshare a laugh at BSUs Cultural Awareness Dinner last Thursday evening.
We need to create an environment wherepeople are encouraged to come forward and when they do, the victims need to be believed andsupported
-Debbie Lee, Family Violence Prevention Fund