University raises awareness for sexual harassment
April is National Sexual Harassment Awareness Month, and this week the Jane Kopas Women’s Center is participating in Anti-Street Harassment (ASH) Week.
Members of JKWC will host events throughout the week, including table sits and movie screenings to raise awareness on sexual harassment both on and off The University’s campus.
University senior Kristen Nawrocki, who is a work-study in the JKWC, was the coordinator of the week.
Street harassment is a problem both on and off The University campus, and Nawrocki said she hopes that in running ASH week students can become more aware of what street harassment is and how to handle a potentially bad situation.
Street harassment includes anything from catcalling and whistling to physically assaulting and stalking. According to stopstreetharassment.org, more than 80 percent of women and members of the LGBT community experience street harassment.
Nawrocki said she views street harassment as a serious problem because there is no way to tell how far someone will take it.
“I find it frightening how some people actually enjoy experiencing forms of street harassment,” Nawrocki said.
The University hosted a few table sits and information sessions last year as it was its first year participating in ASH Week.
“This year, I decided, ‘Let’s do something more to help the students on campus,” Nawrocki said
The JKWC arranged different events this year for each day of the week, focusing on a different issue every day. The week started Tuesday with a Violence-Free Zone Training seminar.
“I was shocked when I read the full definition of street harassment,” Nawrocki said.
Nawrocki said she hopes the remainder of ASH Week will help people who are harassing to stop, think and realize that it is not worth it and that the week will teach students how to appropriately respond to street harassment.
“Always be passionate and don’t give up when it’s not working,” Nawrocki said.
Nawrocki also said she believes another key element of ASH Week is to remember that women are not the only victims of street harassment.
Justine Johnson, director of the JKWC, oversees the activities planned for ASH Week.
Johnson said that her concern is that, while there are laws against domestic violence and harassment in the work place, there is little being done about street harassment.
“[During ASH Week activites] I just hope to see the light bulb go on and some people will un-learn negative behavior,” Johnson said. “I would really like to see more people engage in an honest discussion.”
Johnson said that last year’s ASH Week events gave students an understanding that such behavior is not acceptable and that it is not just “part of the college experience.”
The events of ASH Week remind students that street harassment comes in all forms, from cat-calling to assault in the military
In light of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, the Jane Kopas Women’s Center will also host the annual Take Back the Night Anti-Sexual Violence Rally Thursday, April 24.
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