December 3, 2002

SAGE Holds Discussion On Sexual Harassment

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Students Acting for Gender Equality (SAGE) hosted a panel discussion yesterday in Warren Hall to acquaint the Cornell community with practical ways of dealing with sexual harassment.

There were two representatives present at the forum, one from Gannett and another from Tompkins County Human Rights Commission.

Sidra Goldman ’05, coordinator and one of the co-presidents of SAGE, began the forum with a brief introduction.

“We decided to host a panel focusing on real life ways of dealing with sexual harassment — what to expect emotionally from yourself and others, methods of approaching the situation, and what your rights are under the law,” Goldman said.

Shawn Martell-Moore, attorney and director of the Tompkins County Human Rights Commission, started the event by giving an overview of students’ legal rights under New York State law.

Her talk included an overview of the process of filing a complaint against an alleged harasser and examples of cases that were applicable to Cornell students.

She said her office received over 1,000 phone calls dealing with sexual harassment, gender bias and other forms of discrimination this year. Her office has even received complaints from the Cornell in the past.

“Most importantly, always document instances of sexual harassment that may happen to you. It’s harder for someone to disapprove your allegations if you have a laundry sheet,” Martell-Moore said.

Nina Cummings, the victim advocate from Gannett, discussed how to deal with the emotional side of sexual harassment. She said that victims of sexual harassment often suffer from depression, social isolation and other adjustment problems.

The best way to deal with these emotions to seek help from a counselor or victim advocate on campus.

“I don’t hear about cases of faculty or administrators harassing students but I’m sure it happens. I think it’s important for students to know what they can do about it, and I hope that SAGE can help spread that information and provide that support,” said co-president of SAGE Aimee Hibbets ’03.

Cummings ended the night by challenging SAGE and the student body to create an easily accessible outlet for student victims of sexual harassment.

Archived article by Jonathan Square