Ask permission before touching, officials say


Daniel Salomon

AACC counselor Diane Hallila encourages students to explore their state of mind and to realize that “we’re not always in a perfect state of mind.”

Vincent Moreland, Sports Editor

The best way to avoid sexually harassing someone is to ask for permission before touching and listen when someone tells you “no,” according to AACC officials.

In a Campus Current survey of 338 students, more than 86 percent said they understand what sexual harassment is. But not everyone is so sure.

Second-year Men’s Lacrosse player Nicolas Renzi said he doesn’t see a clear line between what sexual harassment is and what it isn’t.

“Some of the allegations are in the ‘money area’ of that line,” Renzi said. “So you have to read into what you hear.”

AACC’s Police Chief Sean Kapfhammer said if someone “pursues” someone else after that person has said “no,” then it’s sexual harassment.

“If the person that you’ve been talking to expressly tells you, ‘I’m not interested’—if you go beyond that point and keep pursuing that person, then that turns into sexual harassment,” said Kapfhammer.

“Education for everybody would help. … If everybody knows what it is, then people won’t do it.”

Diane Passero, an AACC counselor, said any time someone makes another person feel uncomfortable physically or sexually, it’s sexual harassment.

“If they’re touching you when you don’t want to be touched [or] if they’re saying things that make you feel uncomfortable [it’s harassment],” Passero said.

Passero suggested students consider how they would react if they saw someone talking to a family member or close friend the way they talk to people they are interested in.

Passero also said it can be helpful to victims of sexual harassment if someone witnessing it steps in.

“If you see something, instead of ignoring it, saying something is important,” Passero said. “But you’ll also want to keep safety in mind. … You don’t want to put yourself in a situation that’s going to make you unsafe.”

Passero added that a victim of sexual harassment should contact AACC police and public safety.

“Always create distance from someone that’s making you feel uncomfortable,” Passero said. “You can always get an order of protection for people who have violated your space.”

Director of Student Conduct Erik Hunter said students don’t have to report sexual harassment on campus to the police, but they may.

“What we try to do is have the person who comes forward, have them in the driver’s seat in terms of how the process plays out,” Hunter said. “There’s an administrative process that the college can undertake, and there’s also the criminal process that the police can undertake. So we give that person the option. They can do one, both, or neither.”

Students who are dealing with sexual harassment can tell campus police, get help from a trusted professor or report the incident to the college’s Title IX officer, who handles student, faculty and staff complaints of sexual harassment and assault on campus, according to Karen Cook, the dean of the

School of Business and Law and AACC’s federal compliance officer.

“If I didn’t feel safe on campus, I would ask the police officers to escort me to my classes,” Kevin Escobar, a first-year business student, said.

“I wouldn’t pay them any mind,” Cynthia Hernandez, a first-year radiology student, said. “If you pay them mind, they’re going to keep doing it. If you ignore them, they’re going to feel stupid and they will back off.”

Students who feel unsafe on campus can request that a campus safety officer escort them to their cars or anywhere on campus by calling (410) 777-1818 or by pressing the button on any of the blue emergency poles around campus.