The News Site of Fresno City College

The Rampage Online

The News Site of Fresno City College

The Rampage Online

The News Site of Fresno City College

The Rampage Online

Are You Being Sexually Harassed?

To some, it is just another word, but to others, it is a drastic life-altering event.

Harassment can mean many things. It can refer to the actions of a person who is repeatedly sending threatening letters, making phone calls, sending text messages or unwanted gifts. It can also mean behavior such as being followed or watched.  

Lieutenant Richard Gaines of the State Center Community College Police Dept. said sexual harassment comes in many forms, ranging from persistent jokes of a sexual nature to physical assault. It happens when one person intimidates, coerces, or humiliates another because of gender or sexual preference.

It is sexual harassment if it is unwelcome and unwanted. It can be verbal and/or physical. It can even be through pictures, cartoons or displays of material that is sexual in nature.

Sexual harassment is an unwelcome sexual advance, requests for sexual favors and other verbal, visual, or physical conduct of a sexual nature, made by someone from work or educational setting.

Many students are sexually harassed and do not even realize that it is happening to them.

“Harassment cases are becoming more common on Fresno City College Campus,” said Lieutenant Gaines.  “It’s critical to advocate to students on FCC campus on how to identify, deal with and prevent sexual harassment.”

What is obvious, he said, is that many are aware that sexual harassment is out there, yet, they still ignore it, pretending it doesn’t exist.

Common Examples of  Sexual Harassment

Unwanted touching, comments that are sexually suggestive, and obvious sexual gestures are some examples of sexual harassment that students encounter on a day-to-day basis.

Lieutenant Gaines said, “Sexual harassment could be someone talking to another person inappropriately or receiving compliments about your clothes; ultimately, harassment could be someone talking to another person inappropriately or receiving compliments about your clothes; ultimately, harassment is sometimes defined by the person feeling attacked.”    

Heather Polfer, a student at FCC, said she is harassed on an occasional basis as she walks to and from class. “Guys will say ‘hey baby,’ but I don’t pay attention. I stand with my head tall and walk away,” she said.

FCC student Ka Vang has also been harassed while walking around campus.

“They surround me, and at times I don’t know if I can leave,” explained Vang.

“Men ask to take me home, but I ignore them and walk away.”

Other forms of harassment lurk throughout the campus, and students like Polfer and Vang are finding alternative ways to walk to their classes to avoid nasty remarks.  

“When I see a big crowd hanging around the Forum Hall and Art building, I avoid those areas,” said FCC student Stephanie Jones. “When I am walking to class, I get those smirks like ‘damn’ or ‘you’re so hot’; it’s annoying.”

According to the Fresno City College catalog, “No person shall,

on the basis of ethnic group identification, national origin, religion, age, sex, race, color, physical or mental disability, or sexual orientation be subjected to unlawful discrimination in any program or activity of the district.”

Engaging in sexual harassment is conduct, which may subject the harasser to disciplinary action. Harassment on the basis of sex is a violation of state and federal law.

Similar to sexual harassment in the workplace, most students who experience sexual harassment do not report what is happening. Only 7 percent of students said they reported sexual harassment to a faculty member or other college employee, and 35 students told no one, not even a friend.

Lieutenant Gaines said students should report all incidents of sexual harassment as soon as it occurs.

Some students are reluctant to speak out for fear of controversy or because they are unable to identify their harasser.

However, Gaines said that even if students don’t think the situation is serious, they should document it by providing a statement of the situation to the police. This process can become helpful if further action would have to be taken.

“A lot of times it can range from a short entry report, but a paper trail is essential just in case something later escalates,” said Gaines.  When a case is reported to the police, “We take their [victim] statements, find out who is the harasser, find out if there are any witnesses and then confront the individual,” said Gaines.


Comments to Harassers on Campus

Offenders are often not sure if their actions constitute sexual harassment, but Gaines said there are simple ways to find out. Gaines said that to determine if certain comments or gestures are unwanted or unwelcome, ask yourself, “Would I behave this way if my significant other were present, or if my mother was watching me?”

Stephanie Jones advises individuals who target others with obscenities to show respect. She said, “If you really want to talk to me, come talk to me.  Don’t insult me; talk to me like a normal human being.”

Harassment takes a toll on the person targeted. It can be an awful situation for both men and women. This issue happens all too often; however, it can be easily prevented if students came forward with complaints, regardless of any doubt, fear, or embarrassment.      

Lieutenant Gaines said, the police are here for the students, and regardless of the situation, “that is our main job and sole purpose.”.  

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About the Contributor
Sydney Excinia, Business Manager
Sydney Monet Excinia was born and raised in Fresno, Cali. The eldest of three children, she quickly realized how her role as a “bigger sister” would play in her professional life. Sydney is currently a full-time student at Fresno City College, enjoying the many aspects of a largely diverse community college. This semester she serves as the business manager for the Rampage and will graduate in May with her AA in Journalism. This fall she will be a student at the University of La Verne where she will pursue as a double major in organizational management and business. Sydney has been a part of the Rampage staff since 2009; exploring the vast roles in journalism. During her tenure she has served as a reporter, news editor, managing editor, editor- in- chief and business manager. While furthering her education she hopes to master the technical, professional, humanistic, and conceptual skills necessary to be an effective leader in her future career. After graduating with a master’s degree in public administration, Sydney plans to take some time off to travel and explore various countries and their bounding cultures. In addition to her role with the Rampage Sydney also works as a part-time nanny for two school-aged boys and as a marketing coordinator for a local real estate broker. Despite her busy schedule Sydney always makes time to volunteer and spend time with her boyfriend and their beloved pets. Since starting college, she has been an active volunteer member with the American Red Cross, Animal Rescue of Fresno and the Fresno Chapter Links. She is also a local animal humane advocate where she prides herself on a non-profit service she started two years ago feeding neighborhood strays and fostering abandoned litters of puppies and kitties. Sydney has many goals she hopes to achieve before she leaves this world, but her main aspiration in life is to create her own animal agency that serves as a low-cost hospital, educational and adoption center. Despite life’s unexpectedness, she finds a great interest in exploring new ideas always challenging herself to reach her biggest goals and dreams in life.

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