UW System Task Force on Sexual Violence and Harassment

Creation of Task Force

In July 2014, UW System President Ray Cross called for the creation of the University of Wisconsin System Task Force on Sexual Violence and Harassment. He named 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. (Petra Roter, Special Assistant to the UW System’s Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs, was asked to serve as Ms. Washington’s replacement following her retirement.) The Task Force included cross-disciplinary representatives from all UW System institutions and six ex-officio representatives from UW System Administration.

UW System institutions have a long history of robust and well-publicized policies in place for the effective prevention of and response to sexual misconduct. Policies are enforced by trained and experienced administrators through education and training programs for staff and students. 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 the UW System believes its approach has been effective, fair, and respectful, the UW System is always in the process of evaluating its policies and practices to strengthen them and ensure they continue to be effective and equitable. The Task Force was created to further advance those efforts.

Purpose and Guiding Principles of Task Force

  • Recommend assessment instruments to measure the prevalence of sexual assault on campuses.
  • Assess attitudes, raise awareness and evaluate policies and practices.
  • Foster partnerships with communities and schools to increase awareness and prevent sexual violence and harassment.
Guiding Principles
  • Sexual violence and harassment is a societal concern; it is also a great concern to colleges and universities.
  • Colleges and universities are in a position to help prevent and respond to sexual violence and harassment; they are not the only institutions responsible for doing so, and the efficacy of the response is enhanced by cooperating with schools and community partners.
  • Anyone can be a victim of sexual violence and harassment.
  • Perpetrators come from a wide array of diverse backgrounds and experiences.
  • Survivors of sexual violence and harassment require access to unique support services and resources.
  • Universities must employ robust prevention and response strategies, and policies and procedures that are fair and accessible.
  • Education and training should be relevant, comprehensive, and appropriate to the audience.
  • Corrective actions and strategies need to be appropriate to the context of the university.
  • Current and relevant research should inform policies and practices.

Campus Contacts

Link to help, information, and resources on your UW campus.


Task Force Report

The report and recommendations of the UW System Task Force on Sexual Violence were presented to President Ray Cross in December 2016.

Read Report

Bystander intervention is a promising practice in violence prevention, and relies on the theory that all of us have a role to play in preventing and responding to sexual assault.

Bystander intervention focuses on the safe and pro-social involvement of individuals who witness harmful behavior, rather than those who are most likely to experience it.   A bystander can direct the person doing harm to stop what they are doing, can distract the people involved by creating a diversion, or delegate by getting someone else involved, like the party host or someone physically larger.  “Unlike sexual assault education, the main purpose of which is to raise awareness and change attitudes about rape, bystander programs engage men and women not (primarily) as potential perpetrators or victims, but rather as potential bystanders to situations involving sexual or intimate partner violence. Bystander prevention programs presume that all members of the community have a role in shifting norms to prevent violence.” Read more.