UW-Madison introduces new sexual harassment and sexual violence - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

UW-Madison introduces new sexual harassment and sexual violence policy

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MADISON (WKOW) -- University of Wisconsin campuses are updating or introducing new sexual harassment and sexual violence policies, following a mandate from the regents in December 2016 saying each campus needed its own, set guidelines.  

UW-Madison's Title Coordinator, Lauren Hasselbacher, explained the conduct was always prohibited, but the literature was found in different places.  "This was really an effort to put it into one place, make it easy to understand and have it apply to employees, faculty, staff, students, visitors, guests and really just be one cohesive policy," she said.  

Hasselbacher said the biggest change is that the new policy requires all employees to take sexual harassment and sexual violence training.  The course is required every three years, and salary raises are contingent on completion.  Employees are able to take the training online or in group sessions, and it is available in five different languages, Hasselbacher added. 

Training for undergraduate students at UW-Madison had been in place for a few years, Hasselbacher said, but the new policy also includes graduate and professional students.  "For all of our students, they're not able to enroll in their second semester classes, unless they've completed that training as well."

While sexual harassment and violence are receiving a lot of media attention with the Me Too Movement making headlines, Hasselbacher said the timing of UW's policy is coincidental.  "I have to say, I'm really grateful it's happening right now because I think as our community has a heightened awareness of sexual harassment in the work place, sexual assault, that they know that we do have a policy on campus, there are reporting options, there's confidential resources available."

The policy also deems certain employees as Title IX responsible employees, meaning if those people learn that any prohibited conduct is happening, they have a responsibility to report it to the Title IX Coordinator.  "In that case, we won't have situations where a problem is isolated to any particular department or unit because we'll be doing more central tracking and oversights across campus," said Hasselbacher.  

"We want people to feel safe while they're working here," Hasselbacher added.  "We want people to feel comfortable in their academic and work environments, and we hope this policy and these trainings are the first step in communicating that to our community." 

UW-Madison officials say last year, they investigated two complaints against university employees.  One employee was fired, and the other case is still pending.  That does not include allegations where the accuser declined a formal investigation.  

Statistics from the UW System show UW-Madison has the highest number of cases of sexual assaults on students.  The campus also has the highest enrollment.  

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