There’s no place for catcalling on campus

Nicole McIsaac, Managing Editor

Picture this: You’re walking past a group of individuals, trying to get to a place you need to be. With the anxiety of feeling the eyes following your every move, you’re suddenly greeted with a whistle or maybe even a degrading comment.

You just experienced catcalling, a form of street sexual harassment.

One might think this type of action only occurs within a city environment, however, the truth is this happens more often than we think on a college campus — and it is simply not OK.

As a senior getting ready to close out my undergraduate studies at Quinnipiac University, this is something that I am far too familiar with. Recently as I headed to a late-night meeting on campus, I was met by a group of men who decided to howl at me like a pack of wolves when I walked by.

Fear was the only reason I didn’t respond.

Even going off campus and still nearby in the town of Hamden, one of my friends was recently honked at by a car passing by as she was just trying to unload her car.

The stories go on and on.

And you might be wondering, “Why doesn’t the person just respond back?”

From experience, catcalling usually places the victim in a state of shock, preventing them from responding or reacting in a way that lets the person know the action is not consented to. People who are catcalled feel vulnerable, demeaned and downright uncomfortable. In no world is this ever warranted, needed or even the slightest bit called for.

People who are catcalled feel vulnerable, demeaned and downright uncomfortable. In no world is this ever warranted, needed or even the slightest bit called for.

— Nicole McIsaac

It’s not limited to just the confinements of a quad and clock tower — this happens all around the country and world. Catcalling is a problem that has seeped its way into the lifestyles of college environments — both for women and men.

According to a 2019 national study on sexual harassment and assault by the University of California San Diego Center on Gender Equity and Health, 89% of students say sexual harassment is occuring among students. However, less than 10% report it to university officials.

To bring this issue to even more of a light, catcalling is a recurring problem for minors, too.

In a 2015 study, 84% of women from 22 countries noted street harassment occurred to them before the age of 17, per an article from The Telegraph.

Can you imagine that? Not even being of age to vote or drink and being met with individuals much older and looking at you like you’re a piece of meat. It’s absolutely sickening.

No wonder I was always told to not walk around at night by myself. This world is a really sick place.

Maybe some people might think it’s funny, but the truth is that this form of harassment is disgusting and utterly degrading to those who experience it.

Other arguments I have heard about this topic correlated to an individual saying the victim was “asking for it,” based upon the type of clothing he or she was wearing at the time of the incident — I could write a whole other article based upon that, so don’t get me started.

Although every individual’s encounter and experience with it is different, it is important to understand the full scope of the lasting effects this harassment can have. Victims might be inclined to cover up more instead of expressing their true identity. They might even refrain from traveling to certain places or going out at all.

For those carrying their books and backpacks, catcalling impacts students emotionally in many aspects, such as in the classroom.

College students who experience catcalling can become, “… disappointed with their college experience, find it hard to pay attention in classes, avoid certain classes or buildings, lose motivation, and experience fear, anger, and embarrassment,” per a 2021 report from the Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault.

The catcalling needs to stop. This is not the way to get someone’s attention or compliment them on your liking of their appearance — and they certainly are never “asking for it.”

Close your mouth and leave them alone.