UA survey identifies sexual harassment

By Amanda Hunt

Arizona Daily Wildcat

The Faculty Senate will be addressing the results of a recent survey that has shown sexual harassment and discrimination toward women occurs frequently at the UA.

The Commission on the Status of Women conducted a campus climate survey of faculty, staff and students during fall and spring semesters last year to measure the incidents of sexual harassment and gender discrimination on campus. Of those surveyed, 1,223 students and 1,736 employees responded.

In a resolution at the Faculty Senate meeting on Monday, the senate commends the commission on their efforts in carrying out the survey and calls for steps to improve policy and the climate at the University of Arizona.

Judy Mitchell, chair of the commission and professor of language, reading and culture, said the survey "may be the most significant study of its kind done on a college campus."

She said the resolution is expected to pass and added that the university "needs to work very hard" to improve campus climate.

"People seemed to respect the survey and its methodology," Mitchell said. With the results of the survey released last fall and the publicity surrounding it, more people are accepting sexual harassment as a real problem, she said.

According to survey results of university employees:

More than 40 percent of women employees reported experiencing sexual harassment in some form. (Eight specific behaviors were identified including being touched in a sexual way, receiving sexual comments, and experiencing negative consequences for refusing to engage in sexual activity with a coworker.)

Men usually experienced sexual harassment by someone of lower or equal status, while women's experiences were usually by someone of higher or equal status.

About half of the employees believe men and women are treated differently. About 45 percent of women said their male co-workers of equal status receive preferential treatment.

According to survey results of students:

More than 10 percent of male and female undergraduates reported that they have experienced some form of sexual harassment by faculty or teaching assistants.

More than 40 percent of female undergraduates reported experiencing gender discrimination. Among those listed were: language, humor or comments that belittle women and being expected to behave in stereotypical ways.

Female undergraduates reported that they avoid several places on campus, especially when alone or at night. Sites mentioned were the Arizona Health Sciences Library, the Student Union, parking lots, and underpasses.

J.D. Garcia, the chairman of Faculty Senate, said the findings were "not very complimentary" to the university. He added that the treatment of women is atrocious.

Mitchell said, however, "We are no better or worse than a variety of institutions. The university is microcosm of society at large."

Garcia said the senate will work to make the climate at the university "more conducive to teaching, learning and working."

Read Next Article