Campus Safety received several reports of online harassment in September around the same time Instagram accounts appeared online anonymously accusing Loyola students of sexual assault.
Loyola has seen six reports of online harassment this year, four of which occurred the week of Sept. 12-18. An Instagram account publicizing the names and faces of students accused of sexual assault, which has amassed nearly 2,000 followers so far, was created Sept. 13. The Phoenix reported.
It’s unclear if these reports are connected to the Instagram account, as Loyola Spokesperson Anna Shymanski Zach said Campus Safety can’t comment on the specific matters of the cases due to a “respect for student privacy.”
Online harassment is broadly defined as anything “unwelcome and objectively offensive that takes place through electronic communication,” Shymanski Zach said. Loyola’s Community Standards prohibit harassment and acknowledge it “may be verbal, physical, or psychological and may occur through electronic means.”
“Harassment and bullying can occur through one severe, isolated incident or through a pattern of repeated incidents,” Loyola’s Community Standards said. “Such actions are unwelcome and pose a risk to the health and safety of the University community.”
When Campus Safety receives a report of online harassment, it explains the various options students have, Shymanski Zach said on behalf of the department. Students can open an investigation within the Office of Equity and Compliance (OEC) if the harassment is gender-based discrimination, with law enforcement, or utilize both.
“If a student reports a crime that involves another Loyola student(s) to Campus Safety, any criminal investigation begins with Campus Safety and may be referred to another department having jurisdiction,” Shymanski Zach said. “Complaints about student conduct are always referred to and handled by the OSCCR or the OEC if it meets these departments’ thresholds.”
When harassment reports are against non-Loyola or unknown individuals, which Shymanski Zach said “is the case for most reports this year,” OEC has limited ability to investigate. In those cases, students are informed of their rights to “initiate civil action or criminal charges” since law enforcement’s “ability to investigate these reports is more robust,” Shymanski Zach said.
To report an instance of online harassment to Campus Safety, students can visit its office, email asksafety@LUC.edu, or call 773-508-SAFE (7233). The evidence a student needs to provide depends on the facts of the case, and students “shouldn’t worry about proving their case for an initial report,” Shymanski Zach said.
“We recommend that any student reach out to Campus Safety if they are feeling unsafe or wish to report a crime they have experienced,” Shymanski Zach said. “Campus Safety continues to respond to reported online harassment cases as quickly as possible and present all resources available to students in need of support.”