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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

2-26-24 PDF
February 26, 2024
An inside look at Bobby B. Beacon’s insides. Illustrated by Bianca Oppedisano/ Mass Media Staff.
Bobby's Inside Story
February 26, 2024

Bad Touch Bad Talk

As if homework and midterms weren’t stressful enough, some students also experience the extreme discomfort of sexual harassment while on campus. Whether it comes from a fellow student, professor or other campus faculty, unwanted sexual attention is upsetting and unnerving. Last semester, an out-of-state UMB student experiencing the discomfort of sexual harassment from her professor became so frustrated with the process of reporting her complaint that she eventually moved back to her home state. So what can you do if you’re dealing with unwanted sexual attention?

Looking up sexual harassment policies on the UMB website can be a bit confusing; the University Policy on Sexual Harassment directs students to call the Director of Affirmative Action and Multicultural Relations which no longer handles sexual harassment issues (the website hasn’t been updated in 3 years), the Code of Student Conduct says to contact the Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs and the Crime Awareness and Campus Security Information Report advises students subjected to sexual offense to contact the Department of Public Safety. So where do you go?

Ultimately, complaints are handled by Mark Preble, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Human Resources, and Joyce Morgan, Assistant Dean of Students, but the means by which students are directed to those offices can vary. Deb Cohen, a Clinical Social Worker at the Health Services Counseling Center, said that students have access to many resources that can lead them to Preble and Morgan, which may explain some of the confusion online. “There are many ways that a student could be directed to the Assistant Dean of Students or the Assistant Vice Chancellor for Human Resources that wouldn’t be wrong or problematic,” Cohen said. “If the first thing a student did was to go to Public Safety, that would be ok.”

Cohen also explained that students may need different kinds of support before they report an issue of sexual harassment. “When someone’s experiencing sexual harassment they could just need to talk about it first, they could be in a position where they want to know that they have support before they do anything official,” she said. “They may not want to take official steps; we hope that they would, but they may not want to. So there are lots of places they could go to talk about it before they go to Joyce or Mark, or [the student] could go to them and still decide not to pursue it.”

The Health Services Counseling Center is one of those places students can go to talk. Students can call the center for phone consolation to receive immediate support and be connected to student resources. Although the Counseling Center does not take insurance, students receive 3 free sessions, which can be used to discuss issues of sexual harassment and possible options for future action. The student Women’s Center and Wellness Center are also place students can go to get information and learn about resources.

Understandably, students may feel particularly stressed and fearful when harassment comes from a teacher or professor; after all, they hold our grades in their hands. But knowing that they have a safe place to discuss a problem may help empower students to confront issues of sexual harassment even before they take official action. Too bad the student from last semester didn’t feel that support.

The Health Services Counseling Center can be reached at 617-287-5690.