Opinion: How to report sexual harassment on campus

Story and Graphic by Sabrina Picou

Graphic

When it comes to finding how to do something on the LBCC website it is pretty self explanatory and a helpful resource. However, when it comes to finding out how one goes about reporting sexual harassment which is unwanted conduct that is sexual in nature or sexual assault which can be defined as unwanted physical touching, the webpage is not a welcoming approach.

Upon coming to the “Complaint process” page the reader is told that the schools takes all complaints “very seriously” and that they have tried to “simplify the process as much as possible” according to the webpage.

Below the information on ensuring those who report sexual harassment or sexual assault complaints are protected from all forms of retaliation there is a tab to find out how to report the complaint on campus.

The first suggestion is to email the Title IX team at TitleIX@lbcc.edu to share the nature of the complaint and that following the email the Title IX coordinator will assign a member of the Title IX team to contact you to schedule a meeting or phone call.

If you are not happy with that suggestion then the site recommends to contact a Title IX team member but does not list the names of those members. Although some may prefer an anonymous person to report to others may feel this page is unfriendly and lacks a name that provides human connection they can trust.

Further down, the site suggests if you do not know who to meet with you can contact the Associate VP of Human Resources which is now Kristin Olson, however, the site has listed the previous Associate VP of HR. It is understandable that the school has many tasks and updates the site as quickly as they can but this site is a sensitive issue and should be a priority to update.

Screen grab from LBCC website.
Screen grab from LBCC website.

The site lists other tabs such as reporting a complaint to the police department, the steps of the complaint process, the appeal process, know your rights tab, and the other options to pursue a complaint tab.

The “other options” is not as useful as a tab as it sounds. Upon clicking the tab the only other recommendation besides emailing the Title IX team is to contact the United States Department of Education Office for Civil Rights for more information. Instead of listing the other options you actually have on this campus.

According to the Associate VP of Human Resources Kristin Olson who is also the Title IX coordinator at LBCC, shares that there are more options than this website lists to file a complaint on campus. Olson also is aware the site needs updating and claims the school is working on it.

“Individuals can report it in a variety of ways whatever they feel most comfortable with. Of course we would want the students to reach out to whoever they feel most comfortable with so if it’s a faculty or if they know a classified employee that they work with cause maybe they’re a student worker or something like that, they can just find a responsible adult on campus and let them know cause it’s a hard thing to talk about so we want to make sure that they (students) understand that everyone is here to support them,” said Olson.

After that is done, depending on who is involved, if it is another student then the report will be taken to student conduct and human resources would also be involved. According to Olson, the student can also come directly to HR if they would like but most importantly Olson encourages students to seek out whoever they feel most comfortable talking to.

Olson assures that after the complaint is filed to an employee or faculty they will make sure that it travels to HR so they can investigate further. In the event of an emergency Olson urges students to call 911 to have campus police immediately respond to the situation.

It is understandable that each individual will feel comfortable with different methods to go about filing a complaint on campus and the LBCC website needs to address those variety of ways besides just emailing the Title IX team for those who want to put a name to the email and have a human connection.

“Where as one individual may feel that they don’t want to just fill out the online form because it goes to someone that’s anonymous – it actually comes to me – but then another individual may not want to initiate the first contact with an actual person and maybe all they can do is send that email but they’re not ready to have a face-to-face conversation so that’s why I want to have as many methods as possible for individuals to reach out,” said Olson.

There are a multitude of ways to report sexual assault or sexual harassment on campus and although the website may not seem like the most inviting method for everyone it is important that you reach out to a responsible adult on campus that you feel comfortable filing a complaint with.

According to Olson, LBCC like most colleges is constantly trying to create a comfortable environment with better outreach including constantly improving their systems overtime and they are currently in the middle of doing so with Title IX issues.

With sensitive topics such as sexual harassment and sexual assault it is important to know that LBCC is a supportive environment. And although the Associate VP of human resources assures that this is an issue that is taken very seriously the website should be a welcoming page that lists all the variety of methods to report sexual harassment and sexual assault on campus besides the email. The office of human resources at LAC is located at T-1045 if you or someone you know would like to reach out to Olson or a Title IX team member.