What is sexual harassment?
Sexual harassment takes many forms, from repeated sexually embarrassing remarks and teasing, to physical assault. It may involve threats - explicit or implied - to one's physical safety, academic success, or job performance. It may make one's study, work, or living environment uncomfortable through continued sexual comments, suggestions, or pressures. It may include:
sexual innuendo or suggestive comments, humor, and jokes about sex or gender, offensive written notes, sexual propositions, insults, threats
leering, whistling, suggestive or insulting sounds and gestures; or
physically touching the body (brushing, patting, pinching), coerced sexual intercourse.
Who are the victims?
The victims of sexual harassment most often find themselves bothered by persons who exert some power over them in a social relationship, in their academic programs, or on the job. This may include the harassment of students by faculty or administrators and employees by supervisors. Frequently, however, people may be subject to harassment by their peers. Staff may harass their co-workers or students may harass their fellow students. Harassment often takes place in an environment where alcoholic beverages are available. Peer sexual harassment is also unlawful and a violation of community standards.
What can you do if you think you have a problem with sexual harassment?
You can sometimes stop harassment by taking direct action. Say, “no” to the harasser. Be direct. Tell the harasser you find the behavior inappropriate. Ignoring the situation will not make it go away. If others have had similar experiences, approach the harasser together. Keep a record of what happened and when. Include the time, the place, the names of the people involved and of witnesses and who said what to whom.
The Iona College Ombudsperson has been trained to deal with complaints of sexual harassment and will be glad to help you. The Ombudsperson will review the options open to you so that you can make the best decision about what steps to take. It is understandable that you may be reluctant to talk about your experience. This reluctance is normal and may have several causes:
uncertainty about whether you have really been harassed;
shock or embarrassment over an incident;
a sense that you are somehow responsible;
a fear that others may not take your complaint seriously; or
skepticism that the situation can be resolved without further harm to you or others.
To make a complaint of sexual harassment by an individal in the Iona College campus community please contact:
Dr. Tresmaine Grimes