For the first time ever, all University of Wisconsin System employees will now be required to take an online training program informing them about sexual harassment and violence.

At UW, the program is called “Promoting Equity at UW-Madison by Preventing Sexual Harassment and Sexual Violence,” and was released in July. Employees were required to complete this program by Sept. 30.

Office of Compliance director Cathleen Trueba said the campus-wide training communicates the importance of the topic and UW’s zero-tolerance policy for sexual assault.

“This training ensures that all members of UW-Madison are made aware that acts of sexual harassment and violence will not be tolerated and that UW-Madison takes the issue of sexual harassment and violence seriously,” Trueba said in an email to The Badger Herald.

One of the goals of the program is to teach definitions of sexual harassment, assault, dating and domestic violence and stalking to employees on campus.

In addition, employees learned about available resources, bystander intervention strategies and options for reporting sexual harassment and sexual violence.

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This new program comes in light of the prevalence of sexual assault on campus and UW’s commitment to ensure the safety of students. 

In 2015, a campus-wide survey found 27.6 percent of female undergraduates at UW reported experiencing sexual assault, and 76.1 percent of the incidents involved alcohol.

In the same survey, however, UW undergraduates reported greater knowledge about sexual assault and awareness of campus resources than the national average.

The employee training system reinforces the responsibility of faculty and UW to ensure students safety and take the needed measures to support them, Trueba said. 

“It is important for all employees to know what it means to be part of the UW-Madison community and what responsibilities we have to ourselves and each other to ensure a safe learning environment,” Trueba said.

The program follows a number of initiatives over the past year requiring students and staff part of the University of Wisconsin System to participate in trainings on preventing sexual assault.

This training will provide employees with the information to identify sexual assault and violence, and know how to support a colleague who has experienced it.

“We need to know how to recognize sexual harassment and violence, how to support a colleague who has experienced sexual harassment and violence, what all reporting options are and the resources for members of our community,” Trueba said.

 

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Before this training was put into place, the Office for Equity and Diversity and the Title IX Coordinator provided regular training on sexual harassment and sexual violence to graduate assistants, employees holding certain appointments and to departments upon request, Title IX Coordinator Lauren Hasselbacher, said. The university has required training of all students since 2013.

Hasselbacher added that training is offered in ways beyond the online training.

All teaching and project assistants receive training on Title IX and bystander intervention as part of the Graduate Assistants Equity Workshop, Trueba said.

In addition, University Health Services, Office of Compliance and Office for Equity and Diversity conduct in-person trainings across campus on how to identify sexual harassment and sexual violence, how to respond and where to report or seek support, Trueba said.

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“We will continue to work to prevent such [sexual harassment and violence], support anyone who has experienced such behaviors, provide a fair and thorough investigation of allegations of sexual harassment and violence, and hold individuals responsible for their behavior,” Trueba said. “[The new training] is a very positive step forward in setting the clearest of expectations for all members of the campus community.”