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Saturday, May 28, 2022
Teaching inequality: Despite wage increase, UW-Madison professors still underpaid

Even if the wage increase happens, UW-Madison professors will make less than other universities.

Chancellor reinforces UW’s sexual misconduct response after 100 investigations into UW employee sexual misconduct surface

This week news outlets reported 100 investigations in employee sexual harassment and assault across the UW System since 2014, on the heels of a major scandal at another Big Ten university where top officials were forced to step down for ignoring evidence of sexual abuse.

Chancellor Rebecca Blank published a post on her blog Thursday that described how the university will learn from Michigan State University and adjust the practices of handling sexual assault cases committed by faculty and staff on UW-Madison’s campus.

Blank said “the natural starting place” to ensure complaints are properly filed with the Office of Compliance is “with stronger centralized reporting and record-keeping,” including a new system UW-Madison started this fall.

This reporting system is still in the early stages of implementation, according to UW-Madison spokesperson Meredith McGlone. Blank called on the Division of Student Life and the Office of Human Resources to also strengthen their record-keeping system. She urged them to “accelerate their efforts” and present a plan to her this semester.

In the blog post, Blank emphasized the use of trainings to teach faculty how to respond to sexual assault complaints. She said a new training position will be created within the Office of Compliance to meet increased demands for training; since sexual misconduct has gained national attention, there has been an uptick in requests from campus units for additional, customized training.

Blank said over 93 percent of campus faculty and staff have completed the bystander training in the year since its creation. They are mandatory for staff to participate in before receiving wage increases and attempt to educate participants on modes of reporting sexual misconduct and how to handle various situations.

Black also shed a spotlight on UW-Madison’s Title IX coordinator, who joined the staff in 2015. She said they work to ensure campus responses to sexual assault and harassment complaints align with UW-Madison’s campus-specific Title IX policy. She mentioned “Title IX Responsible Employees,” who are charged with informing the coordinator of all reports of sexual misconduct.

Blank also cited the Provost’s Advisory Group on Sexual Assault and Misconduct as another body that is “an important driver of policy and program changes in the area.” The panel was started as part of a series of recommendations from a 2016 Association of American Universities report on sexual assault on campus, with the goal of better coordinating campus response to sexual violence.

“The work of building a culture that discourages sexual misconduct and appropriately responds to such allegations cannot be accomplished by people in ‘Title IX Responsible’ roles alone,” Blank said in the post. “With our campus policy now in place, we need better systems and practices to ensure we are listening broadly, identifying trends or patterns that require action, and equipping managers with the training and tools needed to address these issues.”

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Monday about 100 complaints of employee sexual harassment as well as assault have been investigated across the UW System since 2014. Excluding UW-Madison and UW-Milwaukee because those campuses did not disclose details about harassment complaints, over half of the complaints said professors sexually harassed students. Only seven formal investigations took place at UW-Madison between 2015 and 2017.

McGlone said UW-Madison’s small number could be due to survivors reporting assaults to informal sources or staff members outside the Office of Compliance. Blank echoed the sentiment in her blog post — she said often times sexual assaults have been reported at “local levels,” typically to supervisors or department chairs. The chancellor said when these cases are not reported to the Office of Compliance, senior staff is not aware of them and cannot identify “troublesome trends.”

“In the coming months, I will challenge UW-Madison to ensure that all reports of sexual misconduct, other than those made to people who must hold them in confidence if asked, are reported to the Office of Compliance,” Blank said in the post. “We must provide a straightforward way to make sure that the information about these complaints is sent forward beyond the immediate unit.”

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