How to talk about sexual assault and harassment on campus

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EL PASO – While women in the entertainment industry are raising the profile of the Times Up movement against sexual harassment, UTEP’s Student Engagement and Leadership Center is hoping to keep people on campus talking about the issue.

“We wanted to bring Times Up here locally to start that conversation and let students know that they can be a part of this too,” said Campus Engagement Coordinator Mallory Garcia.

The campus conversation started in January with a Times Up reception and exhibit in the Union East gallery.

Audience

UTEP’s Times Up reception and exhibit in January got people talking. Photo by Ashley Johnson, Borderzine.com

Justin Tompkins, case manager for UTEP’s new Center for Advocacy Resources and Education said the biggest thing he hoped student took away from the event was awareness. “And most importantly educate, start those conversations, be aware, serve as an advocate for others, and help others understand that this issue is wrong,” he said.

UTEP’s 2017 Cultivating Learning and Safe Environments (CLASE) Survey found that 20 percent of students reported sexual harassment by other students. The survey also found that 12 percent of UTEP students reported sexist gender harassment by a faculty or staff member, compared with 14 percent throughout the UT system.

“While the UTEP data is similar to what is reported by other institutions in the UT system with no major outliers, we feel strongly that even one case of sexual harassment or assault is too many,” said UTEP Vice President of Student Affairs, Gary Edens.

UTEP has several on-campus resources for people who are seeking help after being sexually harassed or assaulted. Support is available through the Student Health Center, the CARE program and the UTEP Police Department. Off-campus help is available at the Center Against Sexual and Family Violence.

“We move very quickly. These kind of cases rise to the top and we immediately move forward because we don’t want to wait. This is a serious issue that affects all of us,” said Title IX coordinator Catie McCorry-Andalis.

She outlined what happens when a report of sexual assault or harassment is filed with UTEP:

  • Step 1 – Accommodations are made to make the student feel comfortable, such as changing classroom or parking arrangements.
  • Step 2 – An investigation begins which gathering evidence and conducting interviews with parties involved.
  • Step 3 – If it’s proven the incident happened, then the discipline process kicks in. That includes a university hearing with the officer who was assigned to the case, and the sanctions that will come about as a result of the incident.

Both parties also have the option to appeal the report.

McCorry also credited the university’s Do One Thing initiative, symbolized by a green dot, with encouraging bystanders to intervene to prevent campus violence. “That’s really empowering people to step up and say something.”

For information on how to file a complaint, click here.

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