Creating a better work and learning environment at UW-Madison

November 19, 2017 By Greg Bump

In the ongoing national conversation about gender discrimination and sexual harassment in the workplace, the University of Wisconsin­–Madison is reaffirming its commitment to an environment that is safe and free from harassment and intimidation.

UW-Madison participated in a 2015 Association of American Universities national survey on sexual assault and misconduct. The survey found that half of all students reported having experienced sexual harassment, including by fellow students, faculty and other university employees.

“The AAU survey confirmed what many students already knew, that sexual harassment and sexual violence is a problem across higher education and that more needs to be done to improve campus climate,” says UW–Madison Title IX Coordinator Lauren Hasselbacher.

Since then, UW–Madison has taken a number of actions to more effectively prevent and respond to harassment, including:

  • Creating a full-time Title IX Coordinator position in 2015 and placing that position in a newly created Office of Compliance in 2016
  • Requiring sexual harassment/sexual assault prevention training for graduate students (pilot in fall 2016; full launch in fall 2017) – undergraduate students have been required to complete training since 2013
  • Requiring sexual harassment/sexual assault prevention training for all employees, beginning in July 2017. Employees who do not complete the training will not be eligible for general wage adjustments, and supervisors who have employees who have not completed the training will not be eligible for general wage increases. As of early November, about 90 percent of employees had completed the training.
  • Updating policies on sexual harassment, including better defining which university employees are “Title IX responsible employees” and have an obligation to report complaints to the Title IX Coordinator
  • Adopting a policy and grievance processes to address hostile and intimidating behavior
  • Hiring of two additional victim advocates in fall 2016 (for a total of three) in Survivor Services

“It is essential that individual departments, schools/colleges and the entire university not only respond appropriately to all complaints and concerns of sexual harassment and violence, but also work proactively to create positive and inclusive environments for students and employees,” Hasselbacher says.

The university is continuing to look for ways to improve prevention and reporting of sexual harassment on campus. Next steps include:

  • Launching training for all “Title IX responsible” employees
  • Developing on ongoing education and awareness campaign regarding sexual harassment and sexual violence
  • Continuing the collaboration between the Title IX Coordinator and the Office of Human Resources to improve recordkeeping, training and referral processes
  • Establishing a central reporting system and database for sexual harassment/sexual assault reports/complaints

If you or someone you know has experienced sexual harassment, we want you to know that help is available. We urge you to contact one or more of the following resources: