Lincoln Street construction raises catcalling issue

Andrea Delph

The issue of catcalling at Kent State is being discussed this April as part of Sexual Assault Awareness month.

Construction on the new facility for Architecture and Environmental Design, located on South Lincoln Street, not only created a lot of anticipation upon its completion date but also created an uncomfortable area for female students due to construction workers catcalling them on their way to class.

Catcalling is “a loud whistle or a comment of sexual nature made by a man to a passing woman,” according to the Oxford Dictionary’s website.

“Walking from campus to Chipotle has definitely become an uncomfortable walk if I do see workers standing outside of the gates,” Skylar Cumberlander, a senior entrepreneur major, said.

Cumberlander said she has been approached and whistled at while walking through the area. Though she said what was being said was not necessarily rude, it nonetheless still made her uncomfortable because they were older men.

“They are working, so I expected them to do just that,” Cumberlander said. “It just caught me off guard.”

The workers on site are subcontractors for Gilbane Building Company and were hired to build the new facility for Architecture and Environmental Design, said Michael Bruder, the Executive Director and University Architecture.

“We have a zero tolerance policy for that and we have had contractors removed before,” Bruder said.  “There are clear codes of conduct within the contract signed by Gilbane and their subcontractors that prohibits this from occurring.”

Bruder said if someone contacts him about an issue like this it will be investigated. If they are unable to determine who it is, a warrant will be issued to the group so contractors can keep a look out for it.

Although there are many locations throughout campus where construction is being done, the location on South Lincoln Street, adjacent to the Lefton A. Esplanade, has been the most complained about among female students.

“I was walking passed the construction site when a man whistled at me, I turned around to see three men smiling at me,” Weslee Clyde, a sophomore public relations student, said.

“I was embarrassed,” Clyde said. “I just wanted to grab my coffee from Starbucks and head back to class. I did not want to deal with it again.”

On March 19, Taylor Horner (@taylorhorner1) tweeted @KSUprobs, “Construction men yelling, ‘Baby Got Back,’ at all the girls walking by.”

“The difference between catcalling and complimenting a female is that catcalling is calling attention to a woman’s attributes or her features while complimenting is more so in her best interest, to build her self esteem,” Jakim Harvey, a junior exercise major, said.

Harvey said he believes that men catcall women mainly for the hunt and usually when around a group of friends.

“Its like a bravado thing, like to have the guts to speak to a woman that way,” Harvey said. “No man would really do this on his own.”

Harvey explained that an acceptable moment to compliment a woman on the street is during a conversation, not when she is passing by.

“Whistling at women is disrespectful and ignores that person’s humanity,” Cumberlander said. “Compliments would be reserved for moments when both people are part of the conversation in a mutual shared context.”

Contact Andrew Delph at [email protected].