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The Red, White, and Screwed

New information released on sexual harassment within the U.S. Government and school system.

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The Red, White, and Screwed

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) speaking during a Senate hearing.

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) speaking during a Senate hearing.

Derik Holtman

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) speaking during a Senate hearing.

Derik Holtman

Derik Holtman

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) speaking during a Senate hearing.

Anthony Karambelas, Staff Reporter

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Every day, it seems a new sexual assault allegation is making front page news. In the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, numerous other sexual assault victims inside and out of Hollywood stepped forward. Now, the administrations within our school systems and government are being questioned.

The hashtag, #MeToo, has taken the forefront of social media and has expanded as female government officials share their new #MeTooCongress experiences. Dem. Rep. Jackie Speier created the hashtag to show just how much sexual harassment is endured on Capitol Hill.

“I was working as a congressional staffer,” said Speier in a taped statement on Twitter. “The Chief of Staff held my face, kissed me and stuck his tongue in my mouth. So I know what it’s like to keep these things hidden.”

Speier is urging other members of Congress and staff to step forward and share their stories. So far, at least four senators have answered the call, including Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and Rep. Teresa Tanzi (D-South Kingstown).

A major problem expressly addressed by McCaskill and Tanzi revolves around the abuse of quid pro quo by male social elites. According to the National Organization for Women, the frequency of this form of harassment was thought to have decreased since a landmark 1991 amendment to the Civil Rights Act. Quid pro quo was played by Weinstein, and according to McCaskill and Tanzi, by government authorities as well.

McCaskill told the Washington Post, “I was a very young state legislator and in my 20s and I was single–and I was nervous about getting my first bill out of committee. So I cautiously approached the dais and went up to speak to the very powerful speaker of the Missouri House of Representatives.”

She continued, “And I explained to him the bill I had, and did he have any advice for me on how I could get it out of committee? And he looked at me, and he paused, and he said, ‘Well, did you bring your knee pads?’”

According to the Los Angeles Times, there are two clearly defined reasons why sexual harassment has become such a pervasive issue on Capitol Hill. First, the reporting process for sexual assault victims is complex, requiring victims to undergo 30 days of counseling and another 30-day period of “mediation with the accused” before taking legal action.

Second, sexual assault training is not required on Capitol Hill, although Rhode Island and Ohio are now introducing legislation to require this on a state level.

But problems like this aren’t just occurring on a government level. Community colleges are not holding themselves accountable for incidents of sexual harassment brought forth by students.

On Nov. 1, charges were brought against Hudson Valley Community College in Troy, New York, for discouraging a student from reporting her alleged rape to the police. When the student approached faculty, they replied that cases like her’s were hard to prove.

According to ABC News 10, the alleged rapist was allowed to resume class with no punishment. In California, Section 76033 of the Education Code prevents this type of situation from occurring, making sexual assault a valid reason for student expulsion, regardless of the victim’s affiliation with the community college.

According to Lindsey Crusan-Musue, Director of Sexual Assault and Crime Victims Assistance Program at St. Peters, “If a student is sexually assaulted on a college campus, in terms of reporting, they have the option to report on campus and turn it over to their judicial process and they also have the option to report off campus to local law enforcement.”

When both of these options are taken away from a student, something is seriously wrong.

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