By Molly Igoe
Elm Staff Writer
According to the Bureau of Justice statistics, college students are less likely to report rape and sexual assault cases than non-students. Even more troubling, the group One in Four found that 5 percent of women in college will experience rape or an attempted rape every year. In light of events that have happened in other universities across the country recently, Washington College has set out to deal with sexual assault and harassment in a proactive way by educating professors and faculty members. The College’s mandatory harassment training has been implemented to educate WC faculty and staff about policies regarding harassment and discrimination.
WC has a set of clearly defined guidelines that prevents sexual harassment, which can be found under Title IX information on the College’s website. The discrimination and harassment policy states that, “Washington College will not tolerate sexual harassment in any form. Sexual harassment includes sexual violence/assault. The goal of this policy is to create a community free of sexual harassment. Individuals who feel they have been sexually harassed may have the right to bring legal action, in addition to making a complaint to the College.” Students who have experienced sexual assault or harassment can contact Public Safety, the Human Resources Department, Resident Assistants or staff involved in Student Affairs, and the Title IX Coordinator, Assistant Dean for Student Affairs, and Director of Multicultural Affairs Darnell Parker.
Every year, the College has to renew its insurance policy package, which covers a wide range of liabilities, like sexual harassment. Vice President for Finance and Administration Mark Hampton said, “As a result of insurance companies getting tougher with coverage, we have been required to train faculty in how to deal with and prevent sexual assault and harassment.”
In the past, the insurance company, United Educators, found out that only 10 percent of the College’s faculty members were taking the training. In order to keep being covered, Parker asked more faculty members to participate and the College has been able to keep the same insurance policy they have had for the past few years.
Hampton said, “Darnell is trying to make the training more specific to WC, so educators here will know when and how to report cases of harassment.”
Parker said, “Many colleges require harassment and discrimination training to prepare faculty and staff members, and for them to understand the state of Maryland as well as the College’s laws, policies, and resources related to harassment.” The training is conducted through the United Educators website, which consists of modules that define what harassment is, and goes through various situations that deal with sexual harassment, assault, and discrimination.
This is the first year that faculty have been trained in harassment and discrimination procedures, and the second year for staff members of the College. Many professors like Dr. James Hall have supported the idea of training faculty to prevent assault and harassment. Dr. Hall said, “The sexual harassment training helped me learn a few things that would be helpful should a student report a sexual assault or an instance of harassment.”
Hampton said, “Many times, educators are not sure what constitutes as harassment, so more knowledge allows for greater vigilance against any form of harassment.” Ultimately, this training gives faculty and staff the tools they require to combat all forms of harassment and discrimination in order to ensure that WC is a safe place for all students to live and learn.