Washington State Community College working to prevent sexual harassment

Published: Jan. 29, 2021 at 3:23 PM EST
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MARIETTA, Ohio (WTAP) - Washington State Community College (WSCC) is continuing to combat sexual harassment on campus by encouraging students to take part in its Get Inclusive training.

The college has been offering the training to students for about three years, and continues to make it available and easily accessible online.

The training offers descriptions of scenarios that students and others may encounter on campus, as well as suggestions for appropriate actions to take in such a situation. It also defines the full range of behaviors that could be considered harassment, and explains why actions that may be seen by some as more benign, such as inappropriate comments, are indeed forms of harassment.

“We’re committed to providing an environment that emphasizes the dignity and worth of every member of our campus community. We want to be free of harassment and discrimination,” said Jean Worstell, human resources manager and Title IX coordinator. “While we have policies and procedures in place about what to do in the event of an occurrence of sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, the campus wanted to get a step ahead of these occurrences and provide education to our students, staff, and faculty on how to better respond to and ultimately prevent those acts from occurring on our campus,” she added.

In 2015, the Ohio Department of Education introduced an initiative called Changing Campus Culture, Worstell said. It provided Ohio colleges with best practices to follow to address and prevent sexual violence. One of those practices was to offer education to the campus community. Therefore, WSCC began to research online programs, and ultimately selected the Get Inclusive online course to offer to students.The college raises awareness of the training through emails and various on-campus campaigns.

“We’ve done some incentives to encourage our students to watch the online programming because it’s not mandatory...We give t-shirts and when they come in, we ask them, what did you think about it? How did you feel about it? Was it something that was helpful to you? And we’ve gotten a good response. People found that it was something that raised their awareness,” Worstell said.

In addition to Get Inclusive, WSCC gathers data through campus climate surveys, which ask questions about how members of the campus feel about their safety on campus. The surveys, Worstell said, have brought to light various issues that the campus has responded to.

“We want to glean information so that each year we can beef up those pieces of education that are missing,” Worstell said. “There are small things that have come out that we would have never really thought about...For example, the time that the lights come on in the parking lot, so we can make sure it’s light enough when someone’s walking to their car,” she added.

Worstell noted that WSCC continues to prioritize ensuring the campus is safe for all members of the college’s community.

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