Panelists from campus institutions tackled workplace assault at a discussion hosted by Ohio University Student Senate on Tuesday.
The conversation, held during Sexual Assault Awareness Month, appeared timely in light of recent scandals at the university.
In 2016, the Athens Police Department reported 30 rapes, which is exponentially more than in prior years. OU has dealt with the aftermath of removing Roger Ailes’ name from the WOUB newsroom, as well as the many allegations of sexual assault against English Professor Andrew Escobedo.
The event, entitled “The Corporate Cost of Sexual Assault,” covered what specifically constitutes workplace assault, how different kinds of assault may occur and why the topic is still relevant. Ed Yost, Director of Executive Graduate Education and Development and Emeritus Associate Professor of Management Systems, said that at least 20 percent of Americans had suffered from workplace abuse in the past.
“Surprisingly, 69 percent of abusers are male, and 31 percent are female,” Yost said. “I say surprisingly because typically when we ask people about a bullier, we typify them as male.”
Sarah Trower, J.D., Executive Director and Title IX Coordinator of University Equity and Civil Rights Compliance, spoke about how workplace violence has a larger cost than meets the eye. She also stressed that often these relationships are built from difference of positions.
“The root of all this is the abuse of power, a power differential,” she said. “Be sensitive to those power differentials, and be sensitive to conduct or actions that suggest power is being used.”
The program also discussed bystander intervention. Ben Braddock, the Campus Involvement Center Graduate Assistant for Sexual Assault Prevention and Relationship Violence Risk, gave examples and clarified methods for attendees.
“I think a lot of workplace violence that we see manifests not just in the moment, but after,” he said.
The workshop ended with a look at L.A. radio personality Wendy Walsh’s description of her sex harassment allegation against Fox host Bill O’Reilly, pointing out the power differential and abuse she endured.
“We gotta take a stand as individuals to step up and do the right thing,” Yost said.