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Archive for Friday, September 11, 1992

EVENT ADDRESSES SEXUAL HARASSMENT

September 11, 1992

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Organizers in the Women's Studies Program at Kansas University are asking women who have been sexually harassed to speak out.

"From my own experience, I would say that every woman has been sexually harassed at some point," said Elizabeth Campbell, assistant professor of English and chair of KU's "SPEAK-OUT on Sexual Harassment."

The SPEAK-OUT will be at noon Sept. 30 in front of Wescoe Hall.

Faculty members and students will read aloud true stories of sexual harassment that have been submitted anonymously for the event.

Campbell said earlier this week that organizers have received about 40 accounts of sexual harassment for the event so far.

Organizers still are seeking additional accounts from both KU students and people in the community that may be used anonymously at the SPEAK-OUT.

CAMPBELL, who is a member of the Women's Studies Program advisory board, said the SPEAK-OUT is important because it will raise public awareness about sexual harassment.

"We need to get angry all over again," she said, adding that the idea for the SPEAK-OUT arose last year after confirmation hearings of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, who was accused of sexual harassment by Anita Hill, a former co-worker and now professor at the University of Oklahoma.

"The more people speak out, the less it will happen," Campbell said.

Sexual harassment, she said, can occur in both blatant and subtle forms.

It may include sexist comments made by a professor, classmate or employer; unwanted flirtatious or seductive behavior; solicitations for sexual behavior in exchange for some reward; or threats of punishment unless sexual behavior is granted.

SEXUAL HARASSMENT can manifest itself verbally or physically, she said.

Campbell said that although she had no statistical evidence comparing the amount of sexual harassment at universities to the larger community, she said it may be more prevalent at an institution such as KU.

"Probably, at the university, it's more prevalent because the students are more vulnerable. They know that and so do the harassers," she said.

But, Campbell added, increased awareness about sexual harassment has caused institutions to become more sympathetic to victims.

"I think they are more willing to listen to the victims," she said.

In addition, she said more women are speaking out than in the past.

WOMEN and men who feel they have been sexually harassed are encouraged to write down their experiences and submit them for the SPEAK-OUT.

"Men are harassed," she said, "But I don't think nearly as much as women are."

The accounts may be a few paragraphs or a few pages long. No names of anyone, including the writer, will be used. Pseudonyms may be used.

Accounts may be sent to the Women's Studies Program, 2120 Wescoe Hall, Kansas University 66045. The deadline is Tuesday.

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