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Medical Issues, Health & Safety

Avoiding and Responding to Sexual Harassment and Sexual Assaults

Students on study abroad programs may find that other cultures and societies have a much different understanding of what might be considered sexual harassment than is typically the case in the United States. Likewise there can be great variation in the roles of men and women and also in their forms of social interaction. Part of the study abroad experience is to learn how another culture and society organizes everyday life. What might be perceived as sexual harassment at Calvin might be regarded by some as being socially acceptable in another country; albeit obnoxious and unsettling behavior.

While American laws do not extend beyond the borders of the United States, Calvin students studying abroad are bound by College policy regarding social behavior and sexual harassment presented in the student handbook. With regard to the actions of others, if you feel that you have been the subject of sexual harassment during a off-campus experience, you should first report this to the program director or instructor as well as the Off-Campus office. Calvin will do all that it can to provide resources to the student and deal with the situation in accordance to the procedures outlined in the student handbook. Resources for all involved are included below. If you need to contact the Off-Campus programs office or another office at Calvin use the contact sheet at the end of the handbook.

As you live and study off-campus (especially internationally) remember the following to try to avoid sexual harassment and assault:
- Dress conservatively.
- Avoid walking alone at night or in questionable neighborhoods.
- Do not agree to meet a person whom you do not know.
- Be aware that some men from other cultures tend to mistake the friendliness of North American women for romantic interest. Be serious and firm. Again, be straightforward and firm if propositioned; you may have to deny propositions multiple times.
- Don’t be afraid to be "rude." Protect your own comfort and safety.
- Avoid eye contact with unknown men.
- Recognize that the stereotype that American women are morally loose and uninhibited about sex is quite prevalent in other countries.
- Always remember that no one has the right to take sexual advantage of you. If you are victimized in this way, be sure to get help from your program director and/or another person in authority. This is important for your physical and mental well-being and to protect others from becoming victims in the future.

If you are assaulted:
- Go to a safe place
- Get help from a trusted person immediately.
- Get to the medical and psychological support services you need immediately.
- Inform your program director/instructor and/or the Off-Campus Programs Office as soon as possible.

- Calvin Student Conduct Code
- Sexual Harassment Info Sheet found on the Calvin Broene Counseling Center's webpage
- Sexual Assault Fact Sheet – National Statistics found on the Broene Counseling webpage
- What you need to know in case of sexual assault and how to respond (Calvin resource - also found on the Broene Counseling webpage)