Sexual harassment reported on campus


Savannah Behrends

photo by shannon smith
photo by shannon smith

The University of Nebraska at Omaha sent a university-wide email last week to students reporting a harassment/indecent exposure near 67th and Pine Streets. The suspect reportedly asked the victim to get into the car while masturbating and asking sexually specific questions.

Within the next couple of hours the University’s Public Safety Department was in touch with UNO’s Office of Communications working on the details as well as compiling information for the mass email to students and faculty.

Charley Reed, a University spokesman, said they were in constant contact with Academic and Students Affairs as well as Public Safety figuring out if students and faculty needed to be alerted.

“Once we can make the determination that campus needs to know, we work really closely with them to get
the information, write it out, and get it out as quickly as we possibly can,” Reed said.

The e-mail stated that a white man with a brown beard and shaggy hair, wearing a black snapback and driving a car of unknown color, make and model.

Paul Kosel, manager of the Department of Physical Safety, said because the suspect drove away in his car there is no way of knowing his identity.

“Sexual harassment cases are rare here. They’ve only happened once or twice in the last couple years,” Kosel said.

Sexual harassment is any sexual advance that makes the recipient feel uncomfortable. It can be anything from calling someone “sexy” to physically touching another person.

Unfortunately there are a number of universities across the United States that are not as effective as UNO at preventing sexual harassment. In May of 2014 the United States Department of Education released a list of 55 universities mishandling sexual harassment under Title IX.

These universities resided in 27 states, but none in Nebraska. The University aims to keep the campus safe for all faculty and students and plan to roll out an educational online video on Sept. 21 that falls in line with the new Title IX training. The video will include a variety of possible scenarios as well as resources.

This is one of the many measures that UNO takes to help keep students safe while at any of the three
campuses. Kosel said there are more than 60 Code Blue towers across the campuses that can be accessed at anytime. Code Blue towers work like a phone. Anyone on campus can use them for any type of situation
where they need help.

If you feel like you are being followed or someone is harassing you then the person can hit the call button. It can also be used if a car needs to be jumped or if there is a medical emergency.

When the red button is pressed on one of the towers it sends a call directly to campus security. Then the
person can tell the officer what the problem is.

“If we can help, we try to,” Kosel said.

Kosel and his staff also offer an escort system for any person on campus that feels uneasy walking alone at any time. This doesn’t just include evenings and nights.

“Sometimes students are coming home from work at two or three in the morning and want someone to walk with them to their dorms. So we meet them at their cars and walk with them,” Kosel said.

These are only three of the measures the university is taking and continues to take to ensure staff and students remain safe.

Kosel and Reed encourage staff and students to call the emergency line 402-554-2911 to report any suspicious activity and medical emergencies.

If a person wishes to send in a report but to remain anonymous they can text 50911, then in the message write “UNO911” followed by the tip. For escort services they can call 402-554-2648.

“Just know if you are ever on campus and you feel like you need help, just give us a call… don’t be afraid
to ask,” Kosel said.