MADISON, Wis. – University of Wisconsin System President Ray Cross today announced the formation of a new UW System Task Force on Sexual Violence and Harassment to strengthen the university’s capacity to protect students from sexual violence and better coordinate system-wide efforts at prevention and outreach.

“Ensuring that our campus communities are safe and welcoming places to live, work, and learn is a top priority.  This is not an area for compromise,” Cross said.

UW System institutions have had robust and well-publicized policies in place for the effective prevention of and response to sexual misconduct for many years.  These policies are enforced by trained and experienced administrators through education and training programs for staff and students.  The institutions also offer a wide array of services and resources that underscore the UW’s commitment to protecting and supporting its students, employees and other members of the university community.

“While we believe our current approach is effective, fair, and respectful, we are always in the process of evaluating our policies and practices to strengthen them and ensure they continue to be effective and equitable.  This task force will further advance those efforts,” Cross said.

Cross has directed the task force to examine current policies and recommend appropriate modifications, as needed. He also directed them to identify best practices in education and training compliance, as well as other measures to ensure an environment that is open, safe and respectful for all students and staff, regardless of their race, gender or socio-economic status.

The UW System Task Force on Sexual Violence and Harassment will undertake the following efforts:

  • Promote compliance with new and existing requirements established by state and federal laws and the expectations of enforcement agencies by making recommendations concerning policies and practices;
  • Identify and advise on the components of training resources and curricula for effective prevention programs and training;
  • Recommend assessment tools to gauge the prevalence of sexual assault on campuses, assess attitudes, raise awareness and evaluate policies and practices;
  • Foster the development of partnerships with communities and schools on preventing and responding to sexual violence and harassment; and
  • Create a UW System website to centrally communicate the work of the task force, to help publicize institutional policies and practices, and to function as a clearinghouse to help identify resources.

Cross has appointed Vicki Washington, Associate Vice President for Inclusivity, Diversity, Equity and Student Success, and Anne Bilder, Senior System Legal Counsel, to co-chair the task force. The task force has 19 other members with representatives from all 13 four-year campuses plus UW Colleges and UW-Extension. In addition, there are six ex-officio representatives from UW System Administration. The task force will meet periodically in the coming months.

Media Contact

Heather LaRoi UW System 608-265-3195