Opinion: Catcalling is a sign of a forgotten time – it’s time it ends


The American Civil Liberties Union concluded a survey in 2014 that found that one in five college students experience some form of sexual assault during their tenures. More alarmingly, 95 percent of the sexual assaults go unreported.

Noor Abasi and Noor Abasi

As a college student, I look forward to advancing in my education through school and other experiences that come along.

Unfortunately, that journey comes with unwanted and sometimes vulgar advances that are hurled my way from guys too ego-driven to be civil adults.

This is 2015 — the corny “Hey, sexy!” and sexually harassing gestures never worked before, and it’s time to finally put to rest the idea that they’ll ever work now.

There is no doubt that there is still an ongoing problem with sexual assault and the reporting of the incidents on college campuses, as the Current previously reported.

The American Civil Liberties Union concluded a survey in 2014 that found that one in five college students experience some form of sexual assault during their tenures. More alarmingly, 95 percent of the sexual assaults go unreported.

While the recent falsified rape story of a student at the University of Virginia in 2012 has done little to advance the conversation on how to prevent such incidences from occurring, the jarring inconsistencies of the story itself speak to a larger problem — students are not finding resolution in their plight to have a sexual harassment-free college experience.

The argument has never been about making students, particularly females, feel attractive or wanted through advances. This is not the roaring 1960s and Don Draper is not calling the shots anymore.

Making unwanted advances and gestures at any student does the opposite of making students feel safe and secure on campus.

On the week of March 20, the Los Rios district sent out an important notice on “consumer info, sexual harassment, and sexual violence” and information on how to report it.

Scott Crow, American River College’s communication and public information officer, noted that the current harassment policies on campus consider any type of harassment unacceptable, regardless if it is sexual or otherwise.

As adults at the college level, there are no more excuses for permitting and aiding in the harassment of others for personal fulfillment.

While handing out newspapers this semester, I was told by a student that he would only take a copy if it had my name and number on it.

When walking from class to class, the last thing that a student should have to put up with is a group of fellow students attempting to get his or her attention by yelling at them about their body or whistling, insinuating they are a piece of meat to be enjoyed.

Would you talk to your mother this way? Of course not, and human beings deserve respect and dignity based on their ethics and work, not solely be judged on the basis of looks.

Luckily, the pleas for increased student security have not gone unheard.

The police department at ARC is now offering an escort service for those walking to and from night classes to help ease the feeling of being unsafe, but how does someone know if the situation is threatening enough to need an escort?

A constant barrage of media advertising and promotion that seems to place self-gratification at the expense of others does not help matters. Society continually participating in these stereotypes that commonly place women as objects (and to a lesser degree, men as well) only exacerbates the problem.

Specifically on ARC’s campus, not only does it appear that students by and large do not see this as a problem, but “catcalling,” or other assorted unwanted advances of a sexual nature, aren’t even considered instances of harassment unless a student report’s it has happened multiple times and feels their safety is at risk.

In order for harassment to be taken more seriously on campus as a legitimate problem and to make it easier and more comfortable for students to come forward, a survey or notice needs to be put out letting others know that harassment on campus is being acknowledged by asking students and faculty their opinions.

If more students were to report the harassment, catcalling, and the annoyingly frustrating pickup lines that actually jeapordize their sense of safety, the ARC campus police would be much more effective at not only helping those on the receiving end, but getting information out to students to hopefully deter it from happening in the first place.

I want to reiterate my point here. I’m not some crazy feminist who thinks guys don’t have the right to approach women, or that the problem is squarely a males vs. females dynamic, but it’s about how a student is approached.

Don’t shout to a student as he or she is walking by in an attempt to be clever, hip, and look cool in front of your friends, and don’t make comments about a student’s body that you know would make them feel uncomfortable.

Again, would you tell your mother she looked “damn fine” in a sundress? I certainly hope not.

It’s time for students who find harassment and catcalling entertaining or funny to wake up and ask themselves if they are willing to continue to contribute to a classroom environment that would make their sister, daughter, or mother feel completely embarrassed.

Because if not, realize it’s the environment you’re creating.

No student seeks to feel conscious about their looks or their safety in an environment of higher learning. They don’t want to be whistled at, and they sure as hell don’t care what another student thinks about their body or how entertaining they can be for the egos of those who would rather treat fellow students like mannequins rather than real people.

While it’s impossible to force behavior change across our society as a whole (though I remain ever hopeful), we can band together, men and women, at the college level and play our part to stamp out this elementary behavior once and for all.

After all, at the end of the day, we’re just here to learn.  Let’s keep it that way.