The term “bullying” carries a general sense of youth with it. Immediately, the connotations of the term assign themselves to the stereotypical image of the burly, playground pest haunting the shadows of elementary school recess. These figures are infamous in that their intentions always revolve around the negative. Their actions are intentional, malicious and often target those they perceive to be incapable of defense.
The measured, often psychologically-focused attacks of bullies and or harassers are, however, not confined solely to the realm of childhood or adolescence. Troublingly so, the megalomaniacal and power-centric tendencies of bullying and harassment inevitably find their way into the minds and personalities present in today’s professional sphere.
In a utopian society, issues of workplace harassment would fail to plague the cubicles and hallways of workspaces societally. Instead of working in the shadow of that ever-present fear, employees would be able to coexist in harmony, void of the emotionally taxing results of psychological attacks. To beat a dead horse, this depiction of modern work environments is far from realistic.
In an effort to combat this trend and offer maximum resource availability, University of Wisconsin has implemented a website designed to cater to such needs.
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The online resource, titled “Hostile and Intimidating Behavior,” is brand new. More of a guide than anything else, the site provides resources for reporting issues of targeting, abusive slurs, intimidating gestures, work sabotage and other threats. According to a survey conducted in March 2016, this measure is warranted because more than 35 percent of UW faculty reported experiencing “hostile and intimidating” behavior during the previous three years.
The survey also found more than 42 percent of faculty responded they’d witnessed such behavior. As such, the pattern and justification is clear: Three years of more than a third of faculty experiencing a regularly hostile work environment and nearly half of all faculty playing witness warrants a change.
A quick visit to the aforementioned site paints a clear picture: campus has the resources and organizations central to combatting this caustic pattern at its disposal and aims for zero tolerance. Tabs highlighting the litany of services geared towards giving a voice to the oppressed pack the webpage, including a range of language accommodations as an extra guarantor of increased access.
Perhaps most encouraging about such a database is the anonymity that accompanies its arrival. Addressing or confronting an ominous and intimidating figure such as a harasser can and does take an almost inhuman amount of confidence. But the advent of such a comprehensive resource makes it infinitely simpler to take that daunting first step.
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While the issue of workplace harassment is inherently subjective and it’s ultimately the oppressor must take responsibility for their actions, this resource is a valued step in the progressive direction, regardless of the severity associated with the report. This site is clear-cut and direct, enabling those targeted to take action without fear for their safety or job security, all while providing the most summative set of detail so as to limit confusion about eventual proceedings.
No one should be subjected to discomfort or fear in their respective places of work, or anywhere for that matter. A career is a chance to make a tangible impact and time spent in an office should be geared towards realizing that goal, not spent constantly peering over one’s shoulder for that haunting playground bully. The HIB database is more than enough proof that this plague of misconduct is rampant, but even more evidence of the university’s dedication to dismantling the processes that enable such behavior from the start.
Lucas Johnson ([email protected]) is a sophomore majoring in journalism and strategic communication.