July 22, 2024

Safety for USUE employees and students

Utah State University has strict policies when it comes to all forms of sexual harassment as well as many ways to recognize and reduce its frequency on its campuses. This is why all Student employees, as well as other faculty/ staff, were asked to participate in an hour-long prevention training lead by Prevention Specialist Emmalee Fishburn from USU’s Office of Equity.

The training took place separately on the days of October 23 and 24 covering strategies on becoming an empowered leader, recognizing signs of sexual harassment,  and responsibilities Employees of the University have when it comes to reporting such delicate matters. It is required of Employees just like it is of students to renew and stay up to date on sexual harassment prevention training. 

The Office of Equity is located on the Logan campus but stands as a resource for every USU locations experiencing reports of harassment or discrimination; this even counts for study abroad.  “Anything that’s ever connected to your time at the university, if it’s related to harassment or discrimination, we can be your resource,” Fishburn said during the training. The Office of Equity also makes sure Universities are following affirmative action regulations and equal opportunity laws when it comes to hiring practices. 

Emmalee Fishburn is one of eight people on the Prevention Specialist team up in Logan, providing education and training in harassment of all forms. They also offer “supportive measures” or accommodations, for people who have had experiences of harassment or discrimination, that help any resulting stress and ultimately aid them in the process of moving forward. Such programs are as listed: academic accommodations, financial accommodations, housing/ parking accommodations, and employment accommodations.  “We want to make sure we are able to address the behaviors as well as the impact they have on the individuals.”

The meeting covered various policies, such as Title Nine and Policies 339 (both involving sexual harassment) and each employee was educated on the campaign our college holds when it comes to these issues as well as how to step in and provide support to those who may have had or are having an experience they’re uncomfortable with. “We all have the potential to be an Upstander. To be the person who steps in and says something when they see someone participating in incorrect behaviors. We can prevent it and lead others to resources who might need them.” 

Employees went through various scenarios where they were educated in ways to recognize both verbal, nonverbal, and physical cues and then formulate a plan on how to stop inappropriate behaviors depending on the circumstance. They were also informed of their obligation to report any information that may fall under the criterion for sexual harassment, assault, discrimination, as well as dating violence, stalking, and domestic violence. 

“We want to make sure the environments our workers and students live in are physically and mentally safe, respectful, and equitable (free of harassment or discrimination.” Fishburn said, “All of us collectively, as members of our campus communities, are responsible for making these areas welcoming.”   And as a member of this campus, remember that you have every right to file a report or complaint if something is going on that you are not okay with. Even if you are unsure of whether what you’ve been through or been told is an account of harassment or discrimination Fishburn recommends that you call their office and they will walk through the situation with you to determine what action to take. 

For those who may have had or believe they had an experience involving sexual haharassment on campus, there is the option of having your report investigated both formally and informally. Informal resolutions, if a formal investigation is not wanted, allows a more low-key meeting with the person who had performed unwelcome behaviors. They are talked to about their behavior and the impact they are having on the team, environment, or person and how to correct it as well. The office of Equity is also a resource connector, providing resources linking to counseling or advocacy. 

It can be scary to report a situation, especially if there is a fear of retaliation, but rest assured that there are measures taken to prevent any retaliatory behaviors and that reporting is both safe as well as confidential (depending on the circumstances it may involve other specialists and faculty for your safety). Any situation that requires more confidential action or aid, is always available in the counseling office. 

The employees of this campus, student or otherwise, are here to make sure the students are safe and having happy experiences, not uncomfortable ones. Any harassment behaviors that are unwanted and interfere with your ability to carry out day to day actions or performance are not normal, so please take into consideration reporting to and contacting the support teams USU Eastern has, as well as the Office of Equity. 

The Office of Equity number is (435)-797-0346 and if there is a report you wish to file you can find the link on the USU website under “Resources and Reporting.” They have listed numerous contacts that can direct you to resources near you that are willing to help.