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Educating students on bullying and harassment

Nikhilesh Chhetri

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Although not as prevalent as other campus crimes, bullying and harassment do exist and affect the overall safety of the university.

The Harassment and Discrimination Policy of the university states “Southeastern Louisiana University is committed to maintaining an educational and workplace environment free of any type of discrimination and/or harassment which is illegal and which will not be tolerated.” 

The University Police Department confirmed that it is not unusual for the department to hear about cases of bullying or harassment on campus. 

Police Lieutenant Patrick Gipson believes that bullying could be avoided if children are educated properly.

 “It depends on how the bullying or harassing is going to occur,” said Gipson. “There are many different ways that someone could be bullied or harassed, and prevention usually begins when people are still children because that’s when the kind of behaviors that we usually see begin. So, a lot of education is involved.” 

Gipson explained the course of action to take if a student becomes a victim.

“If harassed, the police department would like the incident to be reported to us,” said Gipson. “In that way, we can help you do whatever is legal to stop the harassment.” 

Interim Director of the University Counseling Center Dr. Peter Emerson explained from a psychological point of view why people bully.

“A lot of times it’s a control or intimidation type of thing, trying to feel important,” said Emerson. “But a lot of times, it’s a control issue. It’s all tied into kind of the idea of power and control over the other person, and so that’s usually why people do those types of intimidating types of things like bullying and coercion and intimidation. Those are all things that the bully uses.”

Emerson also explained how bullying and harassment can affect the victim.

“It depends on the person,” said Emerson. “It can be all the way from some people just don’t let it bother them and then again there’s some people that really bothers, that it really does upset.  Sometimes it also depends on what they think about the bully, you know. If it’s somebody that’s important to them, it’s a lot harder for them to deal with that later on. You’re dealing with trauma issues for a long time.”

Emerson stated the available options students have if they feel like they’re being bullied.

“Any student who feels like they’re being bullied on campus has the ability to contact over at Student Advocacy and Accountability,” said Emerson. “They will go ahead and fill out a report, and if it’s a very serious case, the University Police Department can get involved. They can work with them to prevent the bullying, and then anyone who has felt the effects of that, we do counseling here and work with them to kind of work with the issues.”

Emerson explained how the University Counseling Center helps students deal with bullying. 

“We work with them, and we tell them about Title IX,” said Emerson. “We tell them about the protections that they have here under the rules and the regulations here at the university. We can definitely get them protected from that by making sure that that person doesn’t come on campus and doesn’t do that anymore.”

The University Police Department offers to provide education on bullying and harassment upon request.

“If there is a group of students or a group of employees who wants to have a class on harassment or to learn about the laws governing harassment or stalking or bullying in Louisiana, then by all means, we’ll be happy to put something together,” said Gipson. “Most education about bullying and harassment occurs at a middle school level. So most of the time when someone gets to college, they should have already had a class to teach them about it. But if you want, call us, and we will do it.”

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