Listen to Students About Sexual Harassment On Campus - Higher Education
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Listen to Students About Sexual Harassment On Campus

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It’s the age of digital promiscuity where everyone it seems is swiping left and right, but it turns out the people who are the real problems in establishing what’s acceptable on campus are those still mired in the analogue world.

That’s right, people age 64 and up, about the age of most institutions’ senior officials.

Previously, I opined that maybe the young men and women on campus would be needing a new kind of sex education in this era when “no means no.”

Turns out that there is a new generation gap and the lead offenders are likely not the students but their elders.

YouGov and The Economist did a survey of 1,000 Americans Nov. 4, and asked:  “Would you consider it sexual harassment if a man, who was not a romantic partner, did the following…”

The choices were “looking at breasts,” “placing a hand on the lower back,” and “commenting on attractiveness.”

Of course, females over males generally thought it was always or usually inappropriate. But the surprising difference was that younger males, 18-30 were always more prudish and respectful than those horn dog males aged 64 and up (not my demo).

And that was the key dividing line that emerged in most of those accused of sexual harassment in news reports. It’s primarily men in their 60s and up.

Most notably, I’d also include Donald Trump at the top of the list. To date, he’s hidden behind the presidency, but his failure to condemn Alabama GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore, while speaking out against Democratic Sen. Al Franken is thick hypocrisy.

Trump still has more than a dozen women at the ready with accusations against him, the self-described “pussy grabber.”

At a time when we need a unifying, moral leader to acknowledge this is a new era for women, rights, and justice in America, we have exactly the wrong person in office.

Not only do we have someone intent on rolling back progress made during the last 50 years, we have an unrepentant perp, who likes it the way it used to be.

It defines a new kind of generation gap.

Sexual harassment wasn’t even a thing until the late 1970s, and only grew as more women began working. The EEOC didn’t even have a definition for it until 1980.

Between 1980 and 1985, The Economist reports there were just 16 cases of sexual harassment. It wasn’t until 1986, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the 1964 Civil Rights Act applied and made companies liable for harassment, that the complaints grew. In the last 30 years, there have been 400,000 complaints against companies.

And there would be even more.  The EEOC estimated in 2016 that 25-85 percent of women faced harassment at some point in their working lives. Funny, race didn’t seem to be a factor in the stats reported. It was all about power over those perceived to be weak.

All we needed were more empowered workers to come forward and say “me too.”

The takeaway from the YouGov data is to understand that the leaders who will bring your campus into sexual modernity are not likely the 60-something officials whose names are on your masthead.

The woke will be among the student body, especially the males. I’d add, it’s even more likely they aren’t into frats or football, but that wasn’t in the scope of the survey. Just my hunch.

But that the students surveyed seemed more conservative on the sex issue than those 64-plus tells me who you should listen to. Certainly don’t choose those who desperately want to preserve and hold on to the past.

Emil Guillermo is a journalist and commentator. He writes for the civil rights group AALDEF at http://www.aaldef.org/blog