Photo provided by Hanna Frank: Students are noticing the posters around campus that raise awareness about sexual harassment by teachers.
Alyssa Cicero, Copy Editor and Nicole Kappelman, Asst. Sports Editor
The walls in the hallways at Lewis are constantly covered in a wallpaper of posters and signage from student organizations. Students and staff may have noticed that lately, some of those signs have been replaced with framed sexual harassment posters that are stamped with the phrase, “It’s never okay.”
In accordance with the Illinois Department of Human Rights, Lewis and all higher institutions in the state that receive financial aid are required to display information about state laws and policies prohibiting sexual harassment and where complaints may be filed. While these posters are not new to campus, many have recently been framed or laminated and hung in different areas of the university, which have brought them to the forefront of attention for students and faculty. The posters feature a female student sitting on a bench with the words, “If I turn him down, will I lose my A?”
“Technically, the requirement [for the posters] came back in 2009,” said Assistant Vice President for Human Resources and Title IX Coordinator for the university Graciela Dufour. “We did have the basic requirement posters up [although] they weren’t strategically placed everywhere like they are now.”
Dufour went on to say that the previous posters would be taken down every summer, which prompted the newly framed ones. The posters have all been directly taken from the Illinois Department of Human Rights.
Sexual misconduct and harassment is prohibited under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. This law, according to the U.S. Department of Education, “prohibits discrimination based on sex in education programs and activities that receive federal financial assistance.” Sexual harassment and assault are just two types of discrimination prohibited under this law.
“Title IX is the big umbrella, and sexual misconduct falls under Title IX,” said Director of Residence Life and Title IX Deputy Coordinator for Students Mushtaq Choudhary.
“Any school that receives financial aid has to be [in compliance] with Title IX.”
Education regarding Title IX and sexual misconduct policies at Lewis begins at SOAR, where freshmen are required to attend a series of different presentations to adjust them to college life, one of which is about sexual misconduct. Resident Assistants and Resident Life Coordinators also go through a series of training in order to educate them on Title IX, sexual harassment and the necessary procedures, according to Choudhary.
Lewis offers many avenues for students to be made aware of the sexual harassment policies on campus, and Dufour said the overarching goal, through the posters, presentations and other methods, is to prevent any sort of sexual misconduct from happening at the university.
“The ultimate goal would be for us to have that action [of sexual misconduct] be reduced,” Dufour said. “However, if it’s still going to happen, we want to know that the affected individuals know what their rights are and how to go about reporting the problem to be brought whole.”