Cat calling still remains an issue for women

By Cheyanna Kramer

Lilanie Karunanayake is a Resident Assistant on the first floor of Oak View Hall. In addition to helping her students and doing her job as expected of her, she also has recently had to worry about verbal harassment, of “cat calling.”

“Most people never say anything,” Karunanayake said, “and a lot of the time, girls leave the situation saying ‘I wish I would have said something.’”

Karunanayake said that though she couldn’t speak for every student who cat calls another student, she said that it may be men attempting compliments in the wrong way, or may find it funny.

“What lots of students don’t know is that cat calling is a form of verbal assault,” she said.

However, Mark Gordon, Chief of Oakland University Police Department, said that cat calling isn’t against the law in any way, so no statistics are available about how often cat calling takes place on campus.

Erin Meyers, assistant professor of communication, said that cat calling is one of the side effects of a society that thinks feminism is over.

“Some people think that we don’t need feminism anymore, yet they continue to do these things that call up these inequalities,” Meyers said, “It’s a way of exercising power.”

Recent studies done by the New York Times suggest that between 70 and 99% of females have experienced being cat called in their lifetimes. Just recently, a BBC reporter named Sara Teale was cat called while recording a segment on street harassment.

This trend carries over to Oakland University as well, as Karunanayake was catcalled twice in the same weekend, by two separate people.

Though OU has been considered a safe campus, and hailed as one of the safest in the state, 13 reported cases of sexual assault happened on campUs in 2014 alone, according to the information OUPD released via the Cleary Act last week.

However, there are several ways in which cat calling, and assault in general, can be avoided. Karunanayake said she would recommend RAD classes, which are put on by OUPD.

“It teaches you how to be aware of your surroundings, and to say no,” she said. She also said how even though she hasn’t taken karate in a few years, the skills she learned from it help her feel safe on campus.

Grace Wojcik, Coordinator of the Gender and Sexuality Center, also said that the GSC can act as a moderator between the student and the Dean of Students to report misconduct of any student who may cat call them that they know personally.

“But there’s still the problem of people thinking its innocuous now, and that any incidents are isolated, but it’s not, especially in public spaces,” Meyers said.

Karunanayake said that students should always walk with a friend if possible, and pay attention to your surroundings when walking alone.

“I shouldn’t have been looking on my phone when I was walking, I wasn’t paying attention,” she said.

Meyers said that even though cat calling is a prevalent problem in society, there is also some form of pushback from women.