Reported by Clare Hennig
The issue of sexual harassment has come to light again after the photography department at Langara sent an email to students warning them about of a man hanging around the hallways and aggressively hitting on women.
The report comes at a time when sexual assault is at the forefront of conversation at the college, as they finalize a draft of a new sexual misconduct policy.
Student discomfort apparent
The photography department declined to comment, although students confirmed the email.
“I’m frustrated that it happened, that there was a guy leering and being pushy, overstepping the boundaries,” said Stephanie Hunter, a second year photography student. “It kind of caught me off-guard, this is a safe place for learning [and] it’s gross that someone would do that.”
Another second-year photography student, Jena Laroy, said she was pleased with how the photography department dealt with the concern. “I liked that they sent out the email and told everyone what was going on,” she said.
Students coming forward could be start of social change
Harassment is more common than assault but generally receives less attention.
“It’s [sexual harassment] not reported as much as we’d like,” said Maggie Ross, manager of student conduct and judicial affairs. “Now that we’ve started the conversation around campus, there are more students coming forward.”
Ross said the process for dealing with sexual harassment is the same as with other misconduct issues and is taken very seriously by the college. The penalties could go from a warning, to restrictions – only be allowed on campus during class time, for example – or suspension.
She hopes discussions around the issue will increase recognition that harassment, such as unwanted flirting, is not okay and will encourage students to look out for each other.
“I would really like our students to feel confident enough and assertive enough to [be] able to say stop,” said Ross. “Even as bystanders, they can step in and change the environment.”
Ross could not comment on any specific cases. The man accused of harassing photography students has not been reported since the email was sent.