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Volume 71, Issue 83, Monday, February 6, 2006

Opinion
 

Staff Editorial


EDITORIAL BOARD

                Chris Elliott                        Zach Lee                  Christian Palmer
                Geronimo Rodriguez       Blake Whitaker       Kristen Young


Learning the rules is worth students' time

If the results of a recent study put out by the American Association of University Women -- that 62 percent of college students have been harassed during their college careers but only 7 percent actually report it -- are truly indicative of campuses across the nation, there is a problem somewhere along the line.

The Daily Cougar found similar results at UH after 49 people responded to an informal survey -- 8 percent of those responding had been on the receiving end of verbal harassment or unsolicited and persistent e-mail from other students, but none had reported it to University authorities. Though the number of responses is small, the possibility that sexual harassment is underreported should be taken seriously.

Even in this institute of higher learning, a lack of education may be partially to blame. The line between flirting and harassment is not always obvious, and 12 percent of those who responded to the Cougar survey said they were unaware UH had a policy concerning sexual harassment.

The University does, however, explicitly define what it considers sexual harassment and outlines the actions it will take in response to any allegations of such behavior in the Student Handbook. Of course, it is all too easy to avoid reading the handbook, and a thick book full of legal language is not exactly screaming to be read.

Potential victims and those who have committed what may be an offense need to be familiar with the rules, though, and the Student Handbook is available online for those who are too lazy -- or too busy -- to thumb through the hardcopy. Anyone concerned should visit http://www.uh.edu/dos/hdbk/index.html to better understand University policy.

Oftentimes, the parties and general social atmosphere of college campuses make sexual harassment seem more acceptable than in the real world, but it is not. The sense of freedom that comes with moving out and the loss of inhibition that comes with alcohol consumption are not excuses to cross the line.

 

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