New Website Aims to End Sexual Harassment Toward College Interns

Intern Resource Network will serve as information hub for interns and employers

Kansas City, Mo --  As students return to college campuses around the state to start their school semesters, the Missouri Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence (MCADSV), Partners In Prevention, and Women’s Foundation are providing a new online tool to keep interns safe.  Today, in a virtual press conference, the groups announced the launch of the Intern Resource Network website. 

The Intern Resource Network addresses the reality that the workplace can be a very different environment than a college campus, leaving interns vulnerable to an imbalance of power and resulting actions of sexual harassment. Both male and female students confirmed that, although colleges offer a variety of prevention programs and support services on campus, they needed to be able to know about and gain access to additional support services and resources from programs in the larger community. The Intern Resource Network website can be used as a starting place to learn about best practices on sexual harassment in the workplace. 

“As one of our 2016 grant recipients, we are proud to support MCADSV and the Intern Resource Network, which will empower countless young women to learn their rights, prepare for internships, and identify sexual assault,” said Wendy Doyle, President & CEO of Women’s Foundation. “Women's Foundation is dedicated to removing barriers for women so they can achieve their full economic and leadership potential. As long as sexual harassment exists and is enabled, that presents a barrier for women to advance professionally and to lead in the future.”

“We wanted to ensure that students, advisors and site supervisors had the most comprehensive resource available,” said Matthew Huffman, Prevention Director at MCADSV. “Our goal is to equip students with the information to know the full extent of their rights under Title IX, while also encouraging employers to create workplaces that are safe and equitable.” 

“We are proud to partner with the Missouri Against Domestic and Sexual Violence to create the Intern Resource Network.” said Joan Masters, Senior Coordinator of Partners in Prevention. “We hope this tool will educate students and employers across the state and create safe, healthy work environments for everyone.”

“When I was an intern in Jefferson City, sexual harassment was a serious issue, and it’s clear it’s a problem that persists, often with devastating consequences for too many young women. " said  U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill. "So I’m really proud to support this new resource that’ll help give interns navigating the workplace for the very first time a place to turn to get reliable, confidential information and the tools to help combat this crime."

This resource will be a tool for young women and men to learn their rights as student interns, preparing for their internships, and identifying harassment within them. It is also a guide for students participating in apprenticeships or vocational programs. This tool goes even further by helping students find campus resources and advisors if they identify sexual harassment within their internships. 

"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,” said Speaker of the House Todd Richardson. “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.  I appreciate the leadership of Women's Foundation, MCADSV and Partners in Prevention in addressing these issues head-on and developing practical solutions." 

MCADSV believes domestic and sexual violence will only end through education, alliance, research and public policy. The Coalition has published research regarding domestic and sexual violence and has used that research to create prevention guidelines and legislative advocacy to end abuse. Since the Coalition began its work, more than 100 domestic and sexual violence programs have formed across Missouri.

“Internships play an important role in the private sector for both the intern and the organizations hosting these programs,” said Brandi Riggs, 2017 SHRM-KC President and HR Director for McCownGordon Construction. “Employers have a responsibility to ensure that interns receive the same respect and fair treatment that other employees receive.  This includes understanding the company’s Code of Conduct and anti-harassment policies and how to respond to and report incidents which violates such policies. The Intern Resource Project will play an important role.”

This website was created by the Missouri Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence (MCADSV) and Partners in Prevention.  MCADSV received its initial funding to develop the Intern Resource Project through a personal donation by Missouri’s U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, who publicly spoke of being sexually harassed in the Missouri Capitol as a student intern and subsequently as an elected legislator. The Women’s Foundation then advanced the project with additional funding through a grant.
 

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