Sexual Harassment and the KWU Campus
Written by Paul Green on February 5, 2021
Nearly every woman you have ever seen, interacted with, or known in your life has been sexually harassed or assaulted. On a daily basis all the women you know deal with catcalling, unwanted/unnecessary touching, threats, the general oversexualization of women, and more.
It is inescapable. It feels dooming. It is our everyday lives.
According to NPR February 2018, 81% of all women have been sexually harassed or worse in their lives. Today we are living in a Post-MeToo movement world where many women still face the fear of their abusers, the judgement, and the lifelong consequences of their experiences; however, the limelight often falls to the men who are worried about being ‘wrongfully accused.’ Here is a piece of advice from women everywhere to men who have this worry- just don’t ask to be wrongfully accused and it won’t happen to you. Bad things only happen to those who are asking for it right? To those who drink too much or wear too provocative of clothing??
On a college campus, women can often feel vulnerable to attacks of sexual harassment and assault largely due to the precident that has been set on campuses of the past. A part of college life that has become widely accepted is getting groped at parties, catcalled in dorms, and receiving unwanted texts such as the infamous dick pic. In response to this we asked a couple of women on campus a simple question- ‘What did you do today to not get raped or harassed?’
Madeline Norrell, junior, said, “I wore appropriate clothing that didn’t show off anything.” This proves that society has flipped the narrative and is placing the blame on women for ‘showing off’ their bodies. This is unacceptable and women should not have to alter their physical appearance only in an attempt to combat the male gaze. We should instead be teaching men to not oversexualize and misconstrue an outfits ‘meaning’; sometimes women just want to wear an item of clothing for self expression or because they have the freedom to do so.
Savannah Bonilla, freshman, said, “Everyday I try to keep a silent composure around unfamiliar men. I usually wear baggy upper body clothes to hide my figure. I walk to my car quickly and try to never walk long distances in the dark alone.” This is another instance of a woman drastically changing her appearance to add a layer of protection. This also points out a safety concern that is shared by other women- walking home alone.
Braydyn Houltberg, junior, said, “Personally what I do is I very rarely walk by myself when going places. If I do, I carry pepper spray or my keys in between my fingers while walking. I don’t wear a lot of shirts or clothes that show off my body.” There is a pattern in each of these responses, each of these women expressed fear in their interviews and each of them thought assault and harassment was a true threat.
It is clear that everyday women do a variety of things to protect them from the possibility of harm that lurks around every corner. Instead of putting this burden on women, we need to assess what we can do as a community and college to ensure women’s safety.
When asked about school safety, Norrell replied, “I feel that this is a pretty safe campus compared to others. I feel there should be more street lights when walking at night.” Street lights are a crime deterer that can help students get back to their dorms safely at night and create accountability for those out at night. More street lights is an excellent idea to ensure student safety. Houltberg said, “Most of the places around the school are pretty fast to walk from one building to another but other than that there is nothing to actually protect us. You could call campus security but it is not always a guarantee they will answer. I would recommend the school putting more lights around campus especially in places where students have to walk from their cars parked far away. Maybe adding a blue emergency light on campus that you can press to call the police or alert others could be beneficial.” It is important to have reassurance from campus security that they will come and respond to any calls but apparently that is lacking at KWU. Something seriously needs to change.
We need to protect our women on campus. We cannot accept any half-baked attempts of protection, rather we need change to create a safe learning environment for ALL students.