Website launches to educate college interns about sexual harassment

2 months 3 weeks 4 days ago Thursday, August 24 2017 Aug 24, 2017 Thursday, August 24, 2017 6:31:00 PM CDT August 24, 2017 in News
By: Nick Allen, KOMU 8 Reporter

JEFFERSON CITY - The Intern Resource Network is a new website with the goal of equipping college-age interns with critical information to prevent sexual harassment. 

The website, which held its launch on Wednesday, lays out what sexual harassment is and how one should respond to it in the workplace. 

It comes as a result of the efforts of thee separate organizations, as The Missouri Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, the Women's Foundation, and Partners in Prevention collaborated on the project. 

Partners in Prevention Senior Coordinator Joan Masters said it's important the website not only educate college interns, but their employers as well. 

"Just focusing on the interns would be ignoring the root of the problem, which is the workplaces that perpetrate sexual harassment on them. We wanted to make sure we give employers the tools to make sure their workplaces are as safe as possible for interns coming from school," Masters said. 

The website is two years in the making, as the idea for an online sexual harassment resource center came after a 2015 intern scandal in the Missouri Senate.

A University of Central Missouri student was interning at the office of Sen. Paul LeVota when she said she began to receive unwanted text messages from the state senator. 

LeVota allegedly sent her several explicit requests for sexual activity and stopped assigning work to the intern when she did not comply. 

The senator denied the allegations but did resign from his post. 

House Speaker Todd Richardson (R-Popular Bluff) helped gather support for the project. Richardson spoke of the project's importance to him in a news release. 

“As Speaker of the House, I have made it a priority to improve the work environment in the Missouri Capitol so that interns, staff and members can have a workplace where they are treated with respect and free from harassment. The Intern Resource Network will be useful in ensuring a healthy and safe work environment both in the Capitol and in workplaces throughout the state,” Richardson said. 

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