The Scarlet & Black

The Independent Student News Site of Grinnell College

The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Forum discusses harassment

In order to broaden the discussion of sexual harassment at Grinnell, an independent group of students held a sexual assault and harassment forum in JRC 101 on Tuesday, May 4 at 7:30 p.m.

Miriam Barcus ’12 and Ellen Saliares ’11, both of whom attended AJust training over spring break, organized the forum. When asked if there was anything they could do to continue their work, they both came up with the idea for the forum.

“We sent out an e-mail to groups that would potentially be interested in having worked on topics like this before, but because most of those groups already have the things that they do, we wanted this to become a coming together point of all of that,” Barcus said.

They contacted a number of other students to assist in the event, including Adam Lange ’11, who also participated in AJust training, and Eleanor Nelson ’10, who conducted a Mentored Advanced Project on intimate partner violence.

“We collaboratively discussed what we wanted to be covered in the forum, how we wanted to approach things, what things we could condense and skim over, because obviously it’s a huge issue and can’t be covered in an hour,” said Zoe Schein ’12, a Feminist Action

Coalition leader who contributed research regarding myths concerning sexual assault.

Around 40 students came to the forum. After introductions, students were broken up into small groups to discuss issues related to sexual assault and harassment at Grinnell. At the door, an information packet containing definitions of sexual assault, harassment, intimate partner violence and statistics was distributed and used to direct discussion. Each group discussion had its own focus, but touched on such topics as awareness of definitions, policies and institutional changes that could help Grinnell become better equipped to handle incidents of sexual harassment and assault.

In one group, students discussed the multitude of definitions that governed policy at many different levels, from the College’s own policy to the definition used by the Department of Justice in determining cases of assault. With the wide range of terms came problems of naming and identifying specific issues, which the group concluded was partially responsible for the large number of unreported cases. To address this, many students suggested instituting changes to the website to centralize sexual assault and harassment policies, owing to the apparent difficulty in finding them through a simple search.

Close to the one-hour mark, the groups reconvened for a larger discussion of the issues, as well as the necessity of events like the forum itself. One student mentioned that Tuesday’s forum was his first encounter with an event of that kind, which was a shame, and that even on a campus as purportedly open and safe as Grinnell these issues still go un-discussed. There were calls for future forums, and emphasis was placed on the responsibility of individuals to reform behavior that encouraged silence and tolerance of sexual harassment.

“We just want discussion, and people to be able to talk about things they’re concerned with, things they’re confused about,” said Saliares said. “And then we’re kind of hoping this is something you’ll have with conversations with people who don’t come to the forum, and think about your own behavior and things you’ve experienced, and how we can ultimately be more respectful.”

Despite the small turn-out, recent events and the liveliness of discussion would indicate that the issue of sexual harassment and assault is far from closed, and that Grinnellians are committed to continually addressing problems related to it.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
Donate to The Scarlet & Black
Our Goal

Comments (0)

All The Scarlet & Black Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *