In the 2012-2013 school year, five instances of sexual harassment, including assault, were reported to the University of Oregon and released in compliance with the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act (aka the Clery Act). But this number does not include the number of instances that go unreported.
Caroline Heldman and Danielle Dirks are professors at Occidental College who are working to re-address the topic of sexual assault and effectively end assault and harassment on college campuses. They will be speaking at the event “The New Anti-Rape Movement on Campus: Networked Survivors Fighting for Freedom,” which is part of the Lorwin Lecture series. The event is hosted by the Center for the Study of Women in Society, the organization that helps create, fund and share research about gender identities and inequalities at the UO, and takes place at 6 pm Thursday, Feb. 6, in Fenton 111 on the UO campus.
Carol Stabile, director of CSWS, says Heldman and Dirks have become key players in the movement, and they want to “make sure that these sorts of crimes, which historically have been a problem, are actually reckoned with.” She points to instances of sexual assault and harassment that have taken place at Pennsylvania State University, Emerson College and University of North Carolina, as well as other universities, and how the campuses and administrations responded poorly.
Last week, President Obama addressed the issue in his weekly address by establishing the White House Task Force on Protecting Students from Sexual Assault. He says he is going to “help schools do a better job of preventing and responding to sexual assault on their campuses, because college should be a place where our young people feel secure and confident.”
Oregon law requires that employees at the UO are mandatory reporters of child abuse and prohibited discrimination, including sexual harassment and sexual assault. This means that any employee with “credible evidence” about such crimes must report them to her supervisor or the Office of Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity. The intention is to help provide survivors with the resources they need. However, this type of policy is sometimes criticized for forcing employees to report a crime that they might have heard about in confidence and potentially re-victimizing the survivor.
Stabile says the university’s emphasis on this policy, without attention also to the system that deals with these reports, is a real problem. “If we don’t understand the magnitude of the problem, it makes it really difficult to know how to address it,” she says.
CSWS holds relevant events periodically, and more information can be found at csws.uoregon.edu.