UW System to host national public summit at UWM on preventing sexual harassment in higher education

The University of Wisconsin System will host the second annual national Public Summit of the Action Collaborative on Preventing Sexual Harassment in Higher Education at UW-Milwaukee on Oct. 19-20, 2020.

The public summit is an open forum for higher education leaders, faculty, staff and students to identify, discuss and elevate innovative and effective approaches for addressing and preventing sexual harassment in the university setting.

The event will bring together a diverse group, including members of the Action Collaborative, the broader higher education community, sexual violence and harassment researchers, sexual harassment response practitioners, grassroots and nonprofit organizations, public and private foundations, and federal and state policy makers.

Building on the discussion at last year’s summit, the 2020 summit will serve as an opportunity to gather evidence-based information, engage in a dialogue and gain diverse perspectives on how to effectively combat sexual harassment.

Registration information will be available in summer 2020.

The Action Collaborative includes the UW System, as well as more than 60 organizations, including large public and private institutions, smaller technical or liberal arts institutions, community colleges, minority serving institutions, and research and training sites. The UW System was the first state public higher education system to join the Action Collaborative as one of its 28 founding members.

The four goals of the Action Collaborative are to:

  • Raise awareness about sexual harassment and how it occurs, the consequences of sexual harassment, and the organizational characteristics and recommended approaches that can prevent it;
  • Share and elevate evidence-based institutional policies and strategies to reduce and prevent sexual harassment;
  • Contribute to setting the research agenda, and gather and apply research results across institutions; and
  • Develop a standard for measuring progress toward reducing and preventing sexual harassment in higher education.

In 2014, UW System President Ray Cross called for the creation of the UW System Task Force on Sexual Violence and Harassment, a two-year investigation of current and best practices. In 2016, the UW System put forth a comprehensive new Board of Regents’ sexual assault and harassment policy, codifying the UW System’s commitment to address the issue and mandating sexual violence and harassment training for all UW System employees and students.

In 2018, the UW System instituted groundbreaking new policies on reference checks and the sharing of personnel files that aim to prevent the “pass the harasser” practice. The new policies, unanimously approved by the Board of Regents, require all UW System universities to document in personnel files instances of sexual violence or sexual harassment perpetrated by employees and to share that information with other employers. The policy also requires that final employment candidates be asked whether they have been found to have committed harassment.

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