Not crying wolf

This letter is regarding Eric Krol’s “Truth or Fiction” column that ran in The Northern Star on Feb. 25, 1993.

Mr. Krol concluded that based on what he knew, which he admitted to be not much, the sexual harassment incident in the biology department did not occur. The woman was lying, or as Mr. Krol put it, “crying wolf.” He bases this conclusion on two premises: 1) that the woman had previously filed sexual abuse charges at Rock Valley Community College, and 2) that no action was taken by Northern Illinois University.

This is when you want to pay close attention students; there are two very important lessons that Mr. Krol apparently wants us all to learn. Are you all ready?

First of all, you can only file charges against one person for sexual harassment one time. After that, you are out of luck. So students, choose your case wisely! If a person continually says things to you that you feel are inappropriate after you ask him/her to stop, you better think hard. Okay, so it is sexual harassment. But is it worth using your one allowable charge on verbal harassment, or should you may be wait until it gets physical? After all, verbal abuse does not really constitute abuse, right?

Our second lesson is that if someone cannot produce sufficient evidence (physical or otherwise) to make NIU take action in a case of sexual harassment, they should be discredited. So remember, the next time a friend comes to you shaken by harassment, you escort him/her to the door and tell him/her to show you some physical evidence or quit lying. People’s words are not to be believed; not at NIU and especially if they have already used their one allowable charge.

A note to harassers: do a little check on your subordinates, students, and/or co-workers. If any one of them has filed charges before, and if you think you can keep the harassment verbal and in private, GO FOR IT! The charge will never stick. If one happens to arise, our fine columnists will make you out to be a martyr. You can’t lose!

To top off Mr. Krol’s attempt to publish an undercover belittlement of the legitimacy of sexual harassment, he claims to know that “since the Anita Hill/Clarence Thomas … fiasco, the public’s awareness of sexual harassment in the workplace has increased in leaps and bounds.” Whose? Certainly not Mr. Krol’s!

He also manages to squeeze in an implication that, because the harassment was between two members of the same sex, it was amusing. I fail to see the humor in any form of abuse, let alone see that Mr. Krol has personally reached some higher level of awareness about the seriousness of sexual harassment.

Mr. Krol, may I suggest that you begin to check your facts. If there are none, do not report it. If the facts are sketchy, report both sides. I found your column biased, sexist, and irresponsible. It was no less harassment because the alleged victim’s husband did not gallantly protect her in the previous case, because this was her second charge, because the university took no action, or because it occurred between two members of the same sex.

If you are harassed, report it. If you are harassed again, report it again—again and again and louder and louder until someone listens. If you need support, ask for it. There are plenty of us out here who know that abuse is abuse, in whatever form it may take.


Dept. of communication studies

Graduate Student