Poll indicates 43exually harassed

By Carolyn Smith

Arizona Daily Wildcat

A poll conducted in the spring of 1994 showed that 43 percent of UA staff and faculty had been sexually harassed during the previous five years of their employment at the university.

In response, the administration made a commitment to increase awareness and combat the problem by launching a yearlong educational campaign including a series of posters and brochures to be distributed around campus this month.

In a letter sent at the beginning of October to deans, directors and department heads, the University of Arizona administration asked that the posters be hung prominently and the brochures distributed widely.

"First, it's important to get awareness and then elimination," said Joel Valdez, senior vice president of Business Affairs. "I endorsed the letter because, as a minority, I've seen racial discrimination and sexual harassment is a form of discrimination."

Valdez said that since he came into public office 25 years ago, he has been fighting all kinds of discrimination and has no problem prosecuting people who break the law.

"The purpose is to inform the campus community about sexual harassment and who to contact," said one of the organizers, Judy Nolte Temple, director of the women's studies committee. "We're hoping that the posters will give a strong, unambiguous message."

The survey's definition of sexual harassment included these behaviors:

Touching and sexually suggestive body language.

Pressure for sexual activity.

Physical sexual advances.

Demand for sexual favors with implied threat.

Emphasis on sexual conversation.

Sexually directed remarks about clothing and body or reference to sexual activity.

"There are some behaviors that can be equivocal, but others that can be misinterpreted as harassment," said Dr. Mariz Velez, director of counseling and psychological services. "Not paying equal attention to what a woman says in a meeting is gender bias, not harassment."

The survey found that of the 3,560 faculty and staff members polled (2,295 females and 1,265 males), 29 percent of the women reported experiencing sexual comments from a man, 18 percent reported having been touched by a man in a sexual way, 5 percent reported that they had tried to transfer to a different job and 2 percent actually left the UA due to harassment.

Velez said there was some male harassment, but it was not significant.

"The pattern for women was that they were harassed by people who held positions of authority, people who were over them administratively, and by those who held more power . This was not true for men," she said.

Velez said the 43 percent appears to be similar to what other studies have found in private industry and elsewhere.

"However, given the fact that we are an educational institution, it is important that we take steps to eliminate harassment. . After the survey I think people have become much more aware of sexual harassment going on around the campus, and that probably leads to more civility and gender respect towards each other," she said.

A spring 1994 poll of 1,000 students, 60 percent of whom were female, showed that 13 percent encountered a faculty member who had made seductive remarks about their appearance, body or sexual activity, and 7 percent had experienced unwanted sexual attention from a faculty member.

"It's a question of education and a question of sensitizing each other. . I think there has been progress," said Velez.

With the help of student input, about seven faculty and staff members decided on a series of four posters to place around campus in addition to an informational brochure.

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