JCU responds to astonishing sexual harassment statistics from U.K.

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Protests erupt around the world in wake of Sarah Everard’s death.

Laken Kincaid, Staff Reporter

Ever since Sarah Everard’s kidnapping and murder in early March, the world has been set ablaze with fear. Everard, 33, was walking home on March 3 from the town of Clapham to Brixton in London when she was abducted by an off-duty police officer. A week later, on March 10, her body was found in the town of Kent. Since the announcement of her death on March 12 by the local commissioner, her case sparked a global outcry.

For many, Everard’s story is too familiar. After her death, the hashtags “#ShewasWalkingHome” and “#ReclaimtheStreets” were created and filled with the stories of women who experienced sexual harassment. Hundreds of vigils were hosted across the world as people both grieved for Everard and discussed women’s safety.

A few days after Everard’s death, U.N. Women United Kingdom released a study that stated that 97% of women in the United Kingdom between the ages of 18 and 24 have been sexually harassed which is defined as any unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature. 96% of those women surveyed said they did not report the harassment. This statistic left the world shocked. It was later predicted in the study that the number could climb to 99% in a few years.

“This is a human rights crisis. It’s just not enough for us to keep saying ‘This is too difficult a problem for us to solve’ – it needs addressing now,” Claire Barnett, executive director of U.N. Women U.K., stated in an interview with The Guardian.

Across social media, users began to share that they were part of the 97% and educated others about their experiences. One user stated, “I am a part of the 97%, and I will give my life to fight for the 3%.” Another said, “Whether it’s 1% or 97%, it’s TOO MANY.”

This leaves many to wonder about how women feel on the campus of John Carroll.

“I believe safety should be defined both objectively and subjectively, as well as individually and collectively,” Chief Brian Hurd of the John Carroll Police Department stated. “Objectively, we have few crimes/incidents/concerns that are reported. Subjectively, the crimes/incidents/concerns that would make one feel unsafe varies person to person based on their experiences, perspectives and expectations. A singular incident can have a lasting effect on one’s perception of safety. A high profile crime can create a sense that a place is unsafe, even if statistics say otherwise.”

“Often perceiving a place as safe or unsafe is a feeling one gets, based on many factors (think of how movies portray “unsafe” places).  Individually, one’s experiences affect how safe they feel. If someone has an experience somewhere that makes them feel unsafe, that feeling often stays with them. The trauma of an incident can make one feel unsafe not just in a certain place, but everywhere, all the time. Collectively, if one hears about crimes or incidents happening to friends or in a community like John Carroll, it can affect how that community feels and perceives safety,” Hurd emphasized.

According to College Factual, of the 177 crimes reported at JCU in 2019, two of the crimes were deemed crimes against women. However, with the rise of social media accounts like @jcu.survivors and other social media campaigns, many assume a substantial number of rape and harassment cases have gone unreported.

“I do feel safe for the most part on campus in this manner,” Kaeleigh Patriski ’24 said. “Sometimes when someone is following me for a while I get uncomfortable, but having JCU PD does help with that a little bit. I think I will always be scared no matter where I am until this type of thing doesn’t happen anymore. I think JCU and its neighborhoods are safer than some surrounding neighborhoods, but nowhere is completely safe.”

“As a woman, I rarely ever feel truly 100% comfortable and safe,” Emily Slusarz ‘24 stated. “I recommend surrounding yourself with friends who support you and are there for you, especially women who feel the same way. It’s comforting to know you’re not ‘over-exaggerating,’ and it’s nice to have someone there who you can rely on if you don’t feel safe.”

Many female students have adopted strategies to avoid and prevent sexual harassment. Rewire, a popular nonprofit journalism organization, recommends that all women carry pepper spray, an emergency alarm, and other tools.  

“JCUPD works with several campus offices (i.e. the Title IX, Dean of Students/Conduct Office, Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Human Resources, Residence Life) in presenting orientation and ongoing programs to raise awareness of what sexual harassment is according to the law, and JCU policies for students, faculty and staff,” Hurd continued. 

“The Title IX Office takes the lead in investigating cases of sexual harassment, relationship violence and sexual assault cases, with support of JCUPD and other offices. Programs such as Bystander Intervention training offers concrete tools to avoid and combat sexual harassment for potential victims, or witnesses. JCU PD offers safety escorts to students on campus, and to locations near campus. Call our 24/7 dispatcher at 216-397-1234. We get between 25 and 55 escort requests per school year.”

“I would recommend asking a member of JCU PD to walk you to your car. They are more than willing, but I understand not trusting them completely,” Patriski said. “I like to be on the phone with someone I trust when I am walking alone, and I like to walk with someone else. Some strategies I use is I do not make eye contact with people I do not know. I walk fast with my head down. I have pepper spray on me at all times. I pretend to be on the phone if no one I trust is available to talk.”

“I always carry pepper spray with me, I have taken some self defense classes, and I try to work out to get myself to be stronger,” Slusarz added. “I always have my location shared with my parents and friends. I tell people where I’m going and who I’m meeting up with. I try not to go too many places alone. I am always aware of my surroundings, or try to be. I don’t walk around in the dark.

 

The Carroll News reached out to John Carroll’s Title IX Office for comment. The office is currently reviewing past preventative efforts to determine how they can make students feel safer and protected on campus.