Spectator Editorial: Put it in writing

In the wake of a report detailing that the Chancellor of UW-Madison did not investigate the allegations of sexual misconduct against another member of the administration, all top administrators must participate in mandatory sexual harassment training. The case that spurred the reaction involved former Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Paul Barrows and his sexual advances toward and relationships with students.

Chancellor John Wiley said the measure has been undertaken to improve the campus climate toward women.

The Issue
Members of top administration at UW-Madison must now go
to mandatory sexual harassment training.

While it is a step in the right direction to mandate sexual harassment training, it’s not enough to solve the problem.

All faculty and staff should have been forced to go through this training a long time ago. Universities should not be exempt from dealing with this serious issue. Businesses in the private sector have informed employees about this for years.

Further, administrators at both Madison and UW-Eau Claire should set policies in writing that ban student-teacher or student-mentor relationships altogether. This would clear up many of the gray areas in universities’ sexual harassment policies and, thus, would benefit students.

Eau Claire’s statement on consensual relationships in its official policies and procedures recognizes that conflicts of interest may result from consensual romantic or sexual relationships between students and members of the faculty or staff. However, it only cautions that serious consequences may develop and that the relationship should be avoided.

Other conflicts occur when these relationships develop. Students in these relationships may get special favors including better grades or letters of recommendation. This hurts everyone.

Students pay a great deal, both in time and money, to go to a university. Our safety and equity should be guaranteed. To do that we need policies in print that will protect us from unwarranted sexual advances and relationships and those that may jeopardize our educational experience.