Club formed to combat harassment


Jeffrey Barr

Kemal Onor

A problem that constantly plagues schools, homes and workplaces around the world is that of bullying and sexual harassment. With Johnson State College’s new club, SASH (Students Against Sexual Harassment and Bullying), students have a place to go to talk about their experiences and problems, on or off campus.

Kemal Onor, current president of SASH, explained the club’s purpose and how it works.

“We are identified as mainly being against sexual harassment and bullying, but we talk about the wide umbrella of issues that might be going on,” Onor said. “SASH’s goal is to provide a safe space where people can feel open to voice whatever issues and problems they might have.”

The group has certain guidelines, such as a no-name policy when voicing experiences, so there’s no chance of “reverse-bullying,” and not sharing other people’s experiences outside of the group.

“What really started the group was the fact that I was getting complaints from people, because apparently certain people aren’t always comfortable going and seeking out faculty members for support, advice, or help,” Onor said. “So for the first semester I was going to faculty members on behalf of other students.”

Students on campus have been enthusiastic about having a safe space where they can go to talk about problems they’re having.

“People have voiced that they wish this club had been started back when they were freshmen, because a lot of issues come up when you’re a freshman,” said Onor.

Onor stressed that none of the students in the group are trained counselors, and that the group is mainly for support rather than professional help.

Onor said that he would be willing to give students his cell phone number, so if they don’t feel safe going somewhere on campus, they can call him and he will walk with them. This is just one of the many ways SASH can help students feel safer on campus.

“I’m not okay with people feeling uncomfortable on this campus,” he said. “I think everyone has the right to be comfortable, everyone has the right to feel safe going to classes. So SASH, in my opinion, is one of the best ways to go about that.”

According to Onor, SASH has plans for multiple upcoming events, including a fundraiser to raise money for a speaker to talk about issues in bullying and harassment, and where certain behavior crosses into the harassment territory.

“A lot of people aren’t really certain where that line is drawn,” he said. “They don’t know where harmless flirting becomes something crossing the line.”

Onor stated that he has high hopes for the future of SASH and its impact on campus.

“I believe personally that it’s going to help with retention rates… it’s going to help lower depression, it’s going to keep people involved and keep them from feeling isolated. It’s going to make people feel like they belong.”

Onor’s long-term hopes for SASH extend way beyond the JSC campus, however.

“I would love for SASH to become this sort of global movement,” he said. “There are a lot of instances of sexual harassment and bullying within college systems… as students, we can support each other, and we can help reduce the chance of sexual harassment and bullying.”