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On National Coming Out Day (Oct. 11), someone wrote a homophobic slur on a street sign. While we cannot express how disappointed we are of the perpetrator, fortunately, groups and individuals on campus have declared their support for the Cal Poly LGBTQIA community. Many students took to Facebook proclaiming their disgust for the vandal, President Jeffrey Armstrong sent a campus-wide e-mail and the Gender Equity Center (GEC) has provided and will keep providing LGBTQI ally training.
More information can be found at the Mustang Daily website.
A recent advice column in The Atlantic gave some drastic advice: women should not go to Cairo. Jeffrey Goldberg began his column by admitting his love for the city. However, within a few sentences, Goldberg said, “But I swear, if one of my daughters ever says she’s off to visit Egypt, I’ll lay myself down in front the plane.” His dramatic statement precedes a horrific story by journalist Natasha Smith, which I highly suggest anyone interested in street harassment to read. It is hard to imagine the fear and trauma that must occur on a daily basis in Cairo and even more difficult to know what the solution or solutions are. Thankfully, Natasha Smith is one woman who was able to escape the streets of Cairo, but it must be heartbreaking and terrifying for those who consider Cairo their home.
In a campus wide email today the Interim Vice President of Student Affairs brought awareness to the student body on sexual assault:
SEXUAL ASSAULT: Any non-consensual sexual contact of which both men and women may be victims. This includes all forms of rape, attempted rape, and
any other non-consensual sexual physical contact.
In our efforts to stop sexual assaults at Cal Poly, we have developed a working framework to educate the campus community on stopping sexual assault. This effort flows out of the recently completed Presidential Task Force Report on Substance Abuse and Sexual Assault, which provides 47 recommendations of action.
We are in the process of discussing each recommendation, reviewing our current efforts and mapping out next steps. One key focus is educating the campus community on how to respond appropriately to a friend, a student, and/or community member who has been sexually assaulted. Another is providing response training to all campus members.
Safer will be the office that will work with the campus in coordinating clearer expectations in the handling of sexual assault complaints, or alleged victims, to inform them of their right to pursue disciplinary actions. Safer will also work with the campus in addressing perceived roadblocks for students in reporting a rape or other sexual assault, and will work with the campus on raising the visibility of available resources, education and training.
I encourage you to review the report as well as Recommendation Action Reports in response to the report at:
Please share your feedback with me, which will be integrated into the discussion. If you would like a more active and on-going role, please let me know that, too.
Please join me in working toward an even safer, healthier campus.
Preston C. Allen
Interim Vice President for Student Affairs
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a complaint recently on the behalf of female truckers who have been sexually harassed by male trainers at an Iowa trucking company. The Associated Press first reported the lawsuit on May 9, but it has been featured on various high profile media sites such as The Washington Post and ABCNews. We often do not think about the plight of women in male-dominated fields such as trucking, but it is significant that their issues are being publicized and action is being taken. Women and men should not have to deal with harassment because they choose a career path that is not aligned with their supposed “gender role,” especially as the association between gender and careers is a construct that has been deeply rooted in our society since the post-war forties and fifties. It is disturbing that female truckers have to confront this issue, but it is comforting that their stance is important to the media and to the people.
Check out this video called “Sh*t Men Say to Men Who Say Sh*t to Women on the Street.” The video, which was posted on March 19 and has already gained over 168,000 views, instructs men on how they can stop other men from harassing women. Utilizing the “sh*t people say” meme, the creators of the video intend to fight against the bystander effect (a major problem with street harassment) by encouraging men to disrupt and end unfortunate occurrences on the street. The video does not only promote bystander action, but suggests various ways men can approach the situation in a non-violent manner. Watching this video is highly suggested, especially since it was inspired by the events going on this week.
The week of March 18-24 is not just a week of finals and spring break activities. It is in fact the week of a gender-focused anti-harassment movement called “Meet Us On the Street.”
Founded by Holly Kearl (aka the women behind the blog Stop Street Harassment), she created this movement after feeling enraged by the stories of harassment posted onto her website. On the website The Wip, Kearl writes, “street harassment is portrayed as complimentary, a minor annoyance, or the woman’s fault…Street harassment makes many women feel like they must be on guard in public as they constantly assess their surroundings, scowl, avoid eye contact, and have cell phones ready in case they need to call for help.” She makes a great point. Street harassment is scary, but it also makes women perceive her every day environment differently than a man would. How can women feel safe when they are the main targets of harassment? Kearl’s research points out “on at least a monthly basis, 45 percent of women avoid being in public alone at night and 40 percent avoid being in public alone period. One in five women moved neighborhoods to avoid harassment and one in ten changed jobs because of harassers along their commute or outside their worksite.” If these statistics tell us anything, it is that we have a serious problem that needs to be dealt with.
Last year, over 2,000 people from thirteen different countries supported efforts to eliminate and protest the prevalence of street harassment. Now that March is about to roll around again, it is time for the people of San Luis Obispo to join the effort. The movement’s website gives six ways you can be an activist during this week. You can talk to your friends/family/coworkers/peers about street harassment, raise awareness online, use art to make a statement, and engage, evaluate, and educate your community. Check their website for more information on how to be an activist.
If finals take over your life that week, then try to be an activist against street harassment in your every day life. Using your tech knowledge, artistic talents, research abilities, etc. can truly make our streets safer for everyone.