Campus News

UW-Madison to add a centralized reporting and database system for sexual harassment

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As sexual assault and harassment in the workplace gained national attention, UW-Madison is working to update its prevention and reporting of sexual harassment on campus.

The university will establish a central reporting system and database for reports and complaints of sexual harassment or sexual assault, according to a news release posted last week.

Lauren Hasselbacher, the university’s Title IX Coordinator, said that it is important for all branches of the university, rather than only offices dedicated to sexual misconduct, to respond to sexual violence seriously.

“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 stated in the news release.

The news release, which highlighted UW’s efforts to improve campus safety, was made public on the same day the Wisconsin State Journal published an article reporting a series of sexual harassment allegations in the university’s Department of Urban and Regional Planning.

Campus officials said in the post that they will continue efforts to “improve record keeping, training and referral processes.”

After the 2015 Association of American Universities’ Sexual Assault Climate Survey found that 53 percent of female graduate and professional students said they have experienced sexual harassment on campus, the university made the Title IX Coordinator into a full-time position.

The Title IX Coordinator organizes university efforts for prevention and response to sex discrimination. Title IX is a 1972 federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in educational institutions receiving public dollars, including UW-Madison.

After the 2015 survey, UW made sexual harassment and sexual assault prevention training mandatory for graduate students. Undergraduate students have also been required to complete a similar training program since 2013.

The university has plans to initiate a training program for all “Title IX responsible” faculty to address the issue as well.

Additionally, a 2016 report revealed that the number of reported sexual assaults on campus increased from 217 reports in 2015 to 325 in 2016.

Tonya Schmidt, assistant dean and director in the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards, said she attributes the increase in reports as part of the administration’s efforts to improve access to reporting and sexual assault education programs.

According to the news release, a continuous campaign to educate and promote awareness of sexual harassment and sexual violence on campus will be developed to further improve prevention and reporting of sexual misconduct

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