Former student shares sexual harassment story


EDITOR’S NOTE: To protect both the victim and accused, The Lamp is using the name “Jane” in the story.


SPRINGFIELD — Jane began to feel increasingly uneasy when a male colleague at Lincoln Land Community College made sexual comments to her and other women in the office.

The 23-year-old former student worker recounted comments she saw as inappropriate in which a male contractual worker used double entendres about eating muffins and meatballs.

“I just didn’t feel comfortable going into work anymore,” Jane said.

Then, one day while Jane was working at her desk, the male coworker came into her space and took his shirt off, she said.

He didn’t ask if it was OK or say anything to her, Jane said. He put another shirt on and left his other on Jane’s printer. She said she felt extremely uncomfortable.

When Jane mentioned his behavior to some coworkers, they dismissed her concerns and thought his behavior was fine. Jane said she began to question whether she was overreacting.

The Lamp asked 40 Lincoln Land students, 20 male, and 20 female if they had ever experienced a person trying to dismiss and normalize behavior that they saw as wrong. Thirteen of the women and nine of the men said that they had experienced this behavior.

Jane spoke to her academic adviser about the situation. Her adviser recommended she report the situation to Human Resources. With the promise of anonymity, Jane agreed to this, but she was hesitant because of the dismissal of her concerns by coworkers.

If a student experiences harassment or abuse, they should seek counseling. If it happens at Lincoln Land, students should report it to the college’s Title IX coordinator, Shelby Bedford, who will work with students to assure their rights are protected.

Bedford can help you file a formal or informal complaint, as well as direct you to an appropriate counselor. An informal complaint may be made anonymously, but if the complaint is formal, the victim must be named in order to allow the accused to fully respond to the allegations. However, everything is kept confidential.

There is an option for online reporting at

Reports will be investigated as soon as possible, and the victim will be responded to upon making a complaint, Bedford said.

Depending on the severity of the violation, and if the accused is a faculty member or a student, the accused may be given a range of sanctions, including a warning, being expelled or being terminated, Bedford said.

When filing a report, victims are allowed to express their desired outcome, allowing them to have input, Bedford said.

If a complaint involves a faculty member, Human Resources may get involved. Nicole Ralph is Lincoln Land’s Equal Opportunity Compliance Officer and reports involving faculty go through her.

The Advising and Counseling Office offers counseling for students. Counseling can be very helpful throughout the healing process, and speaking with a counselor can help you to move past the ramifications of experiencing gaslighting. Getting an opinion from an appropriately trained third party can help you to realize that you aren’t crazy and that you can and should trust your first instincts.

As for Jane, she said she previously worked outside at a local restaurant, and she quit because her employer forced her to work alone with a person who made increasingly sexual comments. That added to her concerns about reporting her experience at the college.

However, Jane was satisfied with the way Lincoln Land handled the situation. While Jane is no longer an LLCC employee or student, she said her reasons for leaving the school are unrelated to this situation.


Meredith Howard can reached at [email protected].