SPEAKUP!, an administrative program designed to curb discrimination and harassment on the UW-Madison campus, is presently undergoing expansion.
Student leaders, such as Jenny Chen, co-chair of the Associated Students of Madison’s Diversity Committee, thinks SPEAKUP! should become a better-known resource available to students.
“This campus needs more awareness of SPEAKUP!,” Chen said.
In response, Chen, with the help of other student leaders, is launching a publicity campaign for the program, with flyers, bookmarks and posters in hopes of increasing the number of students who use it.
Chen is also working on a proposal to improve the existing SPEAKUP! program.
Currently, the program helps victims and witnesses of harassment report their claims, and hopefully catch their perpetrators.
Chen wants to design a student-to-student method of reporting incidents, contrary to the current system of leaving messages on answering machines.
Suzanne Jones, assistant dean of students and coordinator of the SPEAKUP! program, said increased reporting and awareness are the primary goals in the modifications.
She said she is concerned students may think there are no implications for the perpetrators, when in fact there are limited, but substantial, steps that can be taken when harassment is reported.
Although SPEAKUP! deals only with student-to-student harassment, situations involving faculty or staff are referred to the Equity and Resource Center. SPEAKUP! continues to provide assistance and support to the victim throughout the entire process.
SPEAKUP! arranges written or verbal apologies, or even sanctions if necessary, to the perpetrator if their questioned actions violate the discriminatory conduct code.
Details of the revised program are not finalized, but it will involve a new system of student referral agents.
The agents will be positioned across campus, so that students “don’t even have to go up [Bascom] hill if they don’t want to,” Jones said.
Another key aspect of the new proposal involves publicity. The Diversity Committee is working toward the program becoming more visible on campus, so students are aware of the available information and support that SPEAKUP! provides.
“Especially since Sept. 11, awareness has been raised of harassment,” Jones said, which she said makes SPEAKUP! an even more vital resource now.
“It’s important that people don’t feel trapped in this campus and know that they have somewhere to go and get help,” said Arvind Gopalratnam, a UW student.
Jones emphasized that harassment does not need to go unnoticed, and that this responsibility spreads to all students. “Harassment causes a lot of fear, and victims need to get counseling,” Jones said.
Once a victim comes forward, Jones said, perpetrators could be held accountable so that “they know that we know” disrespectful behavior is occurring.
Currently, students can report instances of harassment and discrimination around the clock by calling the SPEAKUP! program at 265-8674.