The University of Wisconsin has filed an official reprimand against a teaching assistant for lewd and sexually suggestive comments he made to a female TA, records obtained Wednesday show.
In a complaint filed with UW, the female TA said the first major incident she recalled was in September 2007. While she was meeting with a student to practice pronunciation, the male TA was in the background making inappropriate sexual sounds.
These types of odd behaviors continued through the fall 2007 semester. During lunch, he frequently referred to her pumpernickel sandwiches as “Holocaust sandwiches” and mocked another colleague for her sexuality, oftentimes in front of students.
More specific allegations were available for the spring 2008 semester. In a February conversation, he complimented her shirt, she thanked him, and he replied, “But you can totally tell your breasts are huge.”
In mid-April, the female TA’s boyfriend returned home from a trip. Upon hearing this, the male TA asked her, “How many times did you fuck? Eight? Nine?”
In a February 2008 conversation, she asked him to stop making offensive comments.
“I told him I didn’t like his jokes about ethnicity and sexuality,” she wrote in the complaint. “He brushed it off saying he didn’t mean those things in a serious way and that they [were] just funny jokes.”
On April 24, the female TA sent an e-mail early in the morning to colleagues asking if somebody could substitute for her so she could take care of an unreleased task.
The male TA saw her and responded by saying: “Are they going to [send] you out of the country? Did they discover you have weapons of mass destruction hidden in your boobs?”
Later in April, the female TA said she discovered a condom and a tube of lubricant on the office lunch table, though she was not sure who had placed them there.
She also criticized him for being “rude and unpleasant,” as he would frequently shout colleagues’ last names as “a stereotypical drill instructor.”
Starting in March 2008, she began seeing a counselor, who determined her colleague’s sexual harassment had “seriously affected [her] well being in the department,” she wrote in the complaint.
“Most of the times I was so shocked and I didn’t know how to react so that I either tried to laugh it off or ignored it,” she added.
It was made clear in a June e-mail from the department chair to the male TA that his type of conduct would not be tolerated.
“It is also important … that you limit your future contact with [the female TA] to strictly polite and professional interaction in all circumstances,” the dean wrote. “Indeed, we expect that you will deal with all colleagues in a consistently professional manner that adheres to departmental expectations and standards.”
The TA was reprimanded through a meeting with Vice Chancellor Luis Pi?ero that was scheduled to take place prior to the fall 2008 semester.
In order to protect their privacy, the names of those involved were kept out of the records request by UW officials.
UW spokesperson John Lucas said he had no further information on the situation.