Our View: Sexual harassment complaint not dealt with properly


The Issue: A sexual harassment complaint was made public this week.

Our View: University officials overstepped their bounds in interpreting the harassment policy.

SDSU’s sexual harassment policy is there for a reason. It’s meant to make a sensitive, often emotional, situation run smoothly.

In a sexual harassment issue that became public this week, university officials didn’t deal wtih the situation properly and then twisted the harassment policy to their own interpretation when it didn’t seem to fit.

This week we reported on a former KSDJ staff member, Jacy Riedmann, who filed a sexual harassment complaint against KSDJ Station Manager Ashley-Kenneth Allen.

When Riedmann made an appointment to talk privately with the director of the student union, Kathy Lusk, about the complaint, Lusk invited Allen to the meeting.

The university’s harassment policy is very clear about confidentiality in these cases, so why was Riedmann made to reveal her feelings in front of Allen?

“It was horrible,” Riedmann said. “I told her before I went in that Ashley shouldn’t even know I’m complaining about it. I asked to do it another time when he wasn’t there, but she said Ashley needs to know about it.”

The policy also requires university employees to report any sexual harassment charges, however minor, to an equal opportunity officer. Lusk did not do this, and Riedmann had to make the contact herself.

Lusk is not able to respond to why she didn’t report Riedmann’s complaint. This is where the university’s confidentiality policy turns into a double-edged sword. It keeps the proceedings quiet, but it doesn’t tell officials how to respond when the complaint becomes public.

Once Riedmann officially filed her complaint with the human resources department, Carey Deaver, the person in charge of investigating her case, threatened that disciplinary action would be taken against Riedmann if she spoke to anyone, including her boyfriend and parents, about the complaint.

The policy requires university employees to remain mum on the subject, but does not require it from those who filed the complaint. Deaver had no right to tell Riedmann who she could not talk to, and Deaver broke the policy herself by threatening Riedmann with reprisal.

Policies on sexual harassment need to be clear because officials walk a fine line between taking the victims seriously and protecting the rights of the accused.

Riedmann found it painful enough speaking out on the issue, but when her complaints were downplayed and she was tugged around and threatened by the administration, it only made the situation worse.

If it had been handled properly, the complaint probably would have never been made public.