CHICAGO (CBS) — A college student reported inappropriate behavior, and now she is out of her summer job at a Christian youth program for kids.
She has been suspended without pay while the complaint is investigated. And CBS 2’s Tara Molina was asking Monday, why is the victim being punished?READ MORE: Chicago Weather: Slight Chance Of Storms Overnight; A Quiet Pattern To Come
The woman, Jasmine Stewart, said she is speaking up because she does not believe it is being handled appropriately – because she feels she’s being punished for speaking out and reporting another employee’s inappropriate behavior.
Stewart and her brother, who also reported the incident, are both out of their jobs and the money they expected to save this summer.
A rising college Senior, Stewart already has years of teaching and community service under her belt. But after a year of lockdowns, she told us she took a summer job at a program for children to expand those skills on the city’s South Side.
“I’m a physical education major, so I was looking forward to working with the PE teacher and learning how to be a better leader,” Stewart said.
But Stewart wasn’t expecting the life experience she ended up getting from Urban Comuniversity.
“I have the right to be able to speak up, and be safe, and be heard,” she said.
Stewart told us an employee of the center harassed her.
“He let me know that he thought I would look nice in a bathing suit, and he would like me to send him a picture of myself in a bathing suit,” she said.
Stewart said this happened during her very first week.READ MORE: At Least 2 People Killed, 32 Wounded In Gun Violence In Chicago So Far This Weekend
“He called me sexy while I was in the room with the children,” she said.
Stewart formally reported it, and so did her brother. Another youth worker reported he witnessed inappropriate behavior.
Urban Comuniversity responded the following week with a written notification of a 30-day suspension, “until we finish the investigation of this matter.” Those 30 days amount to duration of the program – and Stewart and her brother’s job.
When Molina called the center with questions about that decision, they said, “No comment,” and hung up.
But when we showed up at Urban Comuniversity, some of the program leaders said the suspension reflects their policy. They would not go on camera, but said if their 30-day investigation finds that Jasmine and the others are telling the truth, they’ll be paid for the program even though they weren’t allowed to work.
“That was never a conversation that was had with us,” Stewart said.
Stewart was surprised to hear the policy. But she said while the lost money she was going to use for school is a problem, she reported the behavior for a reason.
“We allow people to do that when we do not report,” Stewart said.
And she’s speaking out the handling of it for another reason. While it is not the experience she expected this summer, it is an experience she says should lead to change.
“It perpetuates a stereotype that when a certain kind of sexual misconduct happens, there will be some penalization of the victim,” Stewart said.MORE NEWS: 1 Killed, 2 Wounded In West Pullman Shooting
The center maintains this is how their policy works, but other than the conversation Molina had there Monday, they haven’t sent us any information on that policy – or their response to this situation.