Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Harassed on campus

When FAU students Meredith Olen and Nicole Savino leave their room in the Indian River Tower dormitory together, they simply want to walk to class or to the cafeteria in peace so they can have a pleasant conversation. What they frequently get is unpleasant noises, verbal remarks, and crude gestures from the construction workers erecting FAU’s new buildings.

“I think it’s disgusting,” says Olen, “that when you walk out of IRT they’re whistling while hanging out by their cars.”

Olen and Savino are not alone.

“We’ve had conversations with other girls, and it’s happened to them,” Savino says.

The UP has heard similar stories from other FAU women. What the women describe is being ogled and disturbed.

“It makes me feel uncomfortable,” Savino says.

IRT residents Lauren Izzo and Anna-Marie Zacaroli say that they have become used to the harassment but that many of their friends say that they feel nervous and uncomfortable because of the workers’ remarks.

“This happens all the time,” say Zacaroli, “usually around lunchtime.”

Izzo and Zacaroli both have witnessed other women who encounter the same type of harassment, such as the workers rushing to look over the construction site fence to get a closer look at women passing by.

According to the FAU Equal Opportunity Programs Sexual Harassment Policy, sexual harassment is defined as “any unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other communication or physical conduct of a sexual nature from any person.”

Although they have received harassment from several different men, Olen and Savino both agree that not all the workers are demonstrating offensive behavior.

Female residents who enter and exit IRT from the far north entrance seem to encounter this type of verbal abuse frequently due to the proximity of the construction site to the entrance, says Savino.

The descriptions of harassment of FAU women have been similar with all of the individuals the UP spoke with.

“They rush to the fence and yell and whistle,” according to Izzo and Zacaroli.

Whenever Izzo and Zacaroli walk with their friends they say that they always have the same conversation about the “disgusting” behavior of the workers.

“Just because it happens doesn’t mean it’s OK,” says Zacaroli. “It’s like a violation of privacy.”

Many women who have encountered these types of harassment say they have become used to the behavior and have not reported the incidents.

“It’s easier for me to just deal with it and ignore it,” says Savino, “but I know that some people get really upset.”

According to the university, the harassment goes largely unreported. Several of the women the UP spoke with were unaware of where to go with their complaints.

“I wouldn’t know who to contact,” Olen and Savino say in agreement.

And the students the UP spoke with were unaware of any women who have reported the incidents to any authority.

“We have a very strict policy on this,” says Raymond Nelson, director of FAU’s Facilities Planning Department. “If the workers can be identified then they are immediately taken off the job.”

The sexual harassment policy states, “Third parties doing business with the University are responsible for ensuring that their conduct and the conduct of their employees or agents does not sexually harass any member of the University community.”

Paula Behul, director of Equal Opportunity Programs at FAU, says, “We would have to advise the contractors to advise workers [of the policy], and if they cannot do that then they should not be allowed back to the university.”

Upon reports of sexual harassment, Nelson says, “We immediately send a letter to the contractor so they can cease and desist this kind of action.”

Behul adds, “This has happened before, and once the university advises the contractors, the harassment has usually stopped.”

In one instance the UP observed firsthand the type of harassment FAU women are speaking of. On a cloudy day recently, two cheerleaders were walking to the University Center from IRT. The cheerleaders, wearing their red FAU uniforms, began to jog towards the entrance of the UC to avoid getting wet as it started to rain. The construction workers onsite at the new Student Support Services building were on lunch break and were sitting on the north edge of the building finishing their meals.

The men started whistling and making comments in multiple languages as the women began to jog. Although the cheerleaders seemed more concerned with staying dry than with the men’s remarks, it was a clear example of the harassment that some women encounter on a daily basis. In this case, however, it seemed that the remarks of the workers were directed more at one another than directly at the women.

The women the UP spoke with all agreed that sexual harassment on campus is unacceptable and that part of their university experience should not be dealing with offensive comments of workers on campus.

“Whether it’s verbal harassment or otherwise, harassment is harassment in any form,” says Savino.

Olen agrees. “We shouldn’t even have to deal with it,” she says.

Nelson says that the only way to stop sexual harassment is to report it to the proper authorities as soon as it happens.

“If it happens once and they get away with it, then they keep doing it,” says Nelson. “They know better.”

If you or anyone you know has been sexually harassed, please contact the Dean of Students at 561-297-3547 or Paula Behul at the Equal Opportunity Programs office at 561-297-3004.

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