By Brenna Eller
Editor In Chief
Catcalling has been prevalent on and off college campuses all over, and has been an issue on Hutchinson Community College’s campus. Catcalling could be considered a form of sexual harassment, as it is verbal harassment meant to degrade those walking by based on how they look. If you are a victim of being catcalled, report it to Coordinator of Equity and Compliance Jake Gunden or go to the HutchCC website under the Equal Opportunity, Harassment, and Nondiscrimination Procedure tab.
Brenna Eller: For those who don’t know, where can students go for help involving sexual harassment?
Jake Gunden: Students and employees with questions or concerns regarding sexual harassment, discrimination, sexual misconduct, stalking, and/or intimate partner violence are encouraged to contact me in person, by phone, or by email to learn about the various rights and options available to them regarding such behavior. My office is located on the main floor of the Parker Student Union, behind the Information Counter. Additional information is also available on the HutchCC public website, within the College’s Equal Opportunity, Harassment, and Nondiscrimination Policy and Procedures, and in our online student training program “Not Anymore” that is available through Learning Zone.
BE: Can the victim of harassment remain anonymous or do you need a name in order to help
JG: Students and employees are welcome to make an anonymous inquiry or report through the HutchCC TIPS portal, which can be found in the footer of every hutchcc.edu webpage, as well as the HutchCC Campus Safety & Equity homepage. TIPS is secure, easy to use, and is compatible with both Android and iOS devices. To learn more about TIPS, students are welcome to check out the helpful TIPS FAQ sheet. The type of response or action the College can provide to anonymous TIPS reports, however, may be limited. So, in addition to TIPs, students and employees are always welcome to speak with me in person to learn about general rights, resources, and options, before choosing to disclose specific information to me. They may also choose to meet with one of our licensed counselors, who, due to their roles with the College, are able to maintain confidentiality. After hearing about available options, students may then opt to reveal details to me about the behavior they may be encountering. As I typically share in discussions with both students and employees, there are often non-disciplinary interventions available to those who wish to remain anonymous (aka without
the other party knowing who made the report). Disciplinary-based responses, however, typically cannot be anonymously undertaken.
BE: What is the college’s definition of sexual harassment?
JG: At present, HutchCC policy defines sexual harassment as “unwelcome, sexual or gender-based verbal, written, online, and/or physical conduct.” Under the same policy, “Sexual harassment creates a hostile environment, and may be disciplined when it is sufficiently severe, persistent/pervasive, and objectively offensive that it has the effect of unreasonably interfering with, denying or limiting employment opportunities or the ability to participate in or benefit from the university’s educational, social and/or residential program, and is based on power differentials (quid pro quo), the creation of a hostile environment, or retaliation.”
The U.S. Dept. of Education’s Office for Civil Rights is currently undertaking a review of previous
guidance and regulation, however, which could result in the need to alter or update HutchCC’s own definitions.
BE: Do you believe that catcalling is a form of sexual harassment? Is it an issue brought up a lot here?
JG: Unwanted sexual or suggestive comments – depending on the specific content, its frequency, and severity – can be sexual harassment or can rise to the level of sexual harassment. When those comments result in the creation of a hostile environment for the recipient, such comments may even result in potential disciplinary action.
As with most anything, the details of the behavior are critical to any such assessment. Regardless of the severity or pervasiveness of the statements, however, my office, along with the Coordinator of Campus Safety, take reports of such behavior seriously and will seek to find remedies for a reporting party when we learn of such unwanted behavior. The key step, for students and employees, is to help bring the concerns to our attention by reporting.
BE: If someone were to say they didn’t get the help they wanted from their issue, what would
they need to do next?
Response and remedial options are incident specific and are based in part on the type of behavior reported, the frequency and severity of the alleged behavior, the potential intervention desired by the reporting party, and the short- and long-term safety of both the reporting party and the campus community. They may also be impacted by the type of intervention, if any, previously attempted or the history of the person committing the alleged behavior. As with initial concern, a critical component of a HutchCC response is continued communication with me if problems persist. In certain instances, there may be outside agencies through which additional options are available.