Opinion: Elect candidates who speak out against sexual harassment

In the wake of #MeToo, students can play a role in combating the current culture of sexual harassment

Since the beginning of the #MeToo movement, women and men across every field of work have begun speaking out against the dangerous and problematic behavior that people in power use to attack others. 

The political field, which holds a vast array of different internships for students in the School of Politics and Global Studies, is a great example of this – students need to consider this when electing political officials.

The Arizona House of Representatives issued an important consequence that falls within the realm of the #MeToo movement. Then-State Representative Don Shooter was the first legislator to be expelled on the grounds of sexual harassment since the movement began. Shooter’s harassment allegations were not only that of other legislatures and lobbyists, but also at least one intern as well.

Arizona was praised on Twitter for setting such a precedent on the national level, especially because Shooter was the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.  

Accountability is important, but acknowledging an incident without tangible action is not enough and does not contribute to the fight against the current culture surrounding sexual harassment. 

Complacency is one of the biggest contributing factors to the culture surrounding sexual harassment in the professional field. College students are the next generation that are responsible for overturning that behavior. 

Amy Love, deputy director of government affairs for the Arizona Supreme Court, shared her own call-to-action when she was sent a picture of a billboard that read "Make a liberal's head explode! Vote Shooter." Love urges people to vote this behavior out of office. 

"Arizona has nine congressional seats, five of which are occupied by former state legislators, one of whom won by only 16 votes. These elections matter," Love wrote on Facebook in response to the billboard. "Please vote, and urge others to do the same." 

ASU Cronkite Professor Mi-Ai Parrish, who said she also received unsolicited comments from former Rep. Shooter, explained why it is important for candidates who have seen sexual harassment take place to speak out against it. 

“We elect people to represent us and to be our advocates and our bearers of ethics, to uphold good behavior and good moral character," Parrish said. "My expectation for them, as a tax payer and a citizen, is that they have integrity when they are making decisions that affect thousands and millions of lives.” 

One of the most effective ways for students to overturn the current culture surrounding sexual harassment is by using their power as citizens to vote for candidates who speak on this matter. It is important to capitalize on the current wave of energy that is surrounding the #MeToo Movement.

Athena Salman, who represents ASU Tempe in the Arizona State Legislature, also came forward with reports of sexual harassment against Shooter. Salman has routinely spoken up about the injustices that occur in the work field and is an exemplary candidate that students and individuals need to be supporting as midterms approach this November. 

"It's gone on forever, this kind of behavior. It shouldn't be standard but its not a new phenomenon," Parrish said. "The new phenomena is that people are starting to be accountable for that."

Clarification: This story has been updated to clarify the origins of the MeToo movement.


Reach the columnist at jguzma19@asu.edu or follow @JennyGuzmanAZ on Twitter.

Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.

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