Ohio Wesleyan prides itself as being an institution that embraces diversity. It welcomes those from all walks of life and gives them the opportunity to be a part of the OWU family. Unfortunately, striving for diversity does not eliminate instances of harassment on campus.
On Monday, Jan. 23, junior Anthony McGuire, president of the Wesleyan Council on Student Affairs, presented the revised student harassment policy on behalf of WCSA to the January faculty meeting. This policy was approved by WCSA in December 2011.
The university revised its harassment policy in April 2011. To remain consistent with the university’s harassment policy, the student harassment policy was revised by a team, including Politics and Government Professor and Coordinator of Judicial Affairs Michael Esler, senior Yavor Danailov, Dean of Students Kimberlie Goldsberry, Human Resources and Assistant Professor of Politics and Government Ashley Biser.
WCSA reviewed and voted on the revisions, McGuire said.
The changes allow for more opportunities for informal resolutions. These resolutions are aimed at ending the harassment without pursuing a disciplinary investigation which may increase confidentiality. Additionally, more categories, such as family configuration, are protected under the revisions Biser said.
The Student Conduct board generally receives two to three complaints of sexual harassment per year, according to Esler.
He is unsure about how this number compares to complaints at other institutions, but he stressed the importance of organizations’ review and revision of harassment policies.
“Sexual harassment is a form of discrimination that violates the principle and law of equality,” Esler said. “It can be insidious because it is often subtle or even unintended, and it can pervade a culture of an organization. That is why organizations need to be vigilant and review and update their policies.”
Biser said that issues of harassment should be talked about, and the revisions to the policy force those conversations to occur.
“These are roots of the liberal arts education,” Biser said. “This is how you create diversity.”
McGuire believes that sexual harassment is a rare occurrence at OWU.
“I have faith in the Bishops,” McGuire said. “But (sexual harassment) is still worth talking about.”
If students witness or are victims of harassment, they may report incidents to the Harassment Advisory Panel.