Laura Arias, Staff Writer
Last Wednesday, the school held a discussion on sexual harassment regarding its causes, effects, prevention tactics and eventual disintegration of the matter. This was an event initiated as a step towards stopping sexual harassment on and off campus after student, Rebekah Cramer, came forth after being verbally harassed by a male student. The event was supported by many students, faculty and staff. IRC 5 was almost at full capacity as students were eager to participate in the conversation about such a severe issue pertaining to both women and men.
Cramer, along with professors from various departments, led the discussion; first presenting the issue that is constant and increasingly occurring in the Oneonta community, and suggesting what should can be done to end it. After a brief lesson on what is considered sexual harassment and the many ways in which it may be portrayed, students were quick to ask questions and express thoughts on the matter. Both female and male students engaged in the fundamental discussion on this topic.
Many students expressed concern about the reliability of the University Police Department (UPD) and their actions taken on cases of sexual harassment. Because of this, these students asked that UPD be better trained and informed about how to handle such cases. There were also a lot of students who were disturbed about not being sure where to go after a harassment incident. They suggested that students be better informed about the resources available on campus that deal with these issues and what they are specifically responsible for.
So after this informational event on sexual harassment in the Oneonta community, students ask the big question; “What happens now?” During the discussion, students indicated desire for more unity within the different student-led clubs and committees which discuss and deal with issues relating to encounters between genders, issues with sexuality and race; etc. There was also an increasing demand for more educational workshops regarding these subjects, which take place multiple times throughout the year.
Throughout the discussion some students voiced the importance for action coming from students, faculty and staff regarding such issues. Cramer announced that there is already an event that will take place next semester, by which issues of harassment will be tackled called, “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” with the objective of having men walk in heels and wear women’s clothing—forcing them to experience how women feel when they experience sexual harassment. The students who engaged in the discussion are hoping that the campus environment works towards creating a climate that will allow women to feel more comfortable in the city of Oneonta, and most importantly on campus.