On Friday Oct. 1, the college community was alerted through email that there have been several sexually harassing phone calls made to students on campus recently.
The caller is reported to be a single person with a male-perceived voice. He allegedly called an unconfirmed number of female students on their room phones.
Comments about performing explicit sexual acts were made, and the students who received the calls reported the incidents to Kelly Kelbel, Project Director of the RISE Project, and Public Safety.
At this time, it is unknown whether the caller is a member of the Warren Wilson community or someone from off campus.
The first step taken after the calls were reported was strategizing with students about how they thought the problem would be best solved.
Looking ahead, Dean of Students Deb Myers offered a couple of suggestions about next steps that can be implemented, saying, “We’re open to changing room phone numbers, and offering support to students based on whether they choose to respond to the calls or not.”
The calls did not start just prior to the beginning of October.
“We had a report a few weeks before … but we didn’t realize it was something that happened again until more than one student reported it to the RISE Project,” Myers said, “It’s been an ongoing problem since the beginning of the semester.”
What is the next move to make, since we don’t know the longevity of the problem?
Myers said, “It’s hard to say how big our response is going to be based on how long the problem continues.”
If the caller is identified, and is someone from off campus, the college might report it to the police, as sexual harassment is against the law.
The prosecution of a caller who resides on campus would be left up to the conduct board, and the student who received the call would have the choice to report to the police or not.
If a student receives a phone call similar to the ones that have been reported, the best action they can take is to hang up and not engage with that person on the other end of the phone.
“Engagement is often something that drives a person to do this,” said Myers.
“It would be great if [students] reported the calls to the RISE Project or to the office of the Dean of Students.”
Some students have suggested the changing of room phone numbers every year, and to cease the publication of the campus facebook.
“We haven’t heard anything about [the calls] this week,” Myers said.
As a community, we still need to keep our ears and eyes open to the real possibility of continued sexual harassment, and not put this issue on the back burner until it has been stopped.