Office of the President

April 26, 2018

Understanding, preventing and responding to sexual harassment

Ana Mari Cauce

I sent the following message to all University of Washington faculty and staff today and I think it’s worth sharing with our whole community. Sexual harassment has the potential to affect everyone and it’s an issue we can and must work together to prevent and address. 

As the #MeToo movement has brought attention to the pervasive issue of sexual harassment in our culture, the University of Washington reaffirms our deep commitment to preventing and addressing sexual harassment in our community. Sexual harassment is devastating for victims, and too often, survivors do not get the support they need when they come forward. Our University is dedicated to fostering working and learning environments that are free from sexual harassment and all forms of sexual violence and discrimination.

Training resources:

In-person, unit-based training can now be scheduled through your Human Resources consultant

Monthly prevention of sexual harassment in-person training through Campus Staff Human Resources. Register here

Video training “Preventing Sex Discrimination and Sexual Harassment in Academic Programs” focused on educating instructional faculty in the classroom

Video training “Preventing Sex Discrimination and Sexual Harassment in the Work Environment” for staff, faculty and other academic personnel

Bystander training to identify and interrupt instances of interpersonal violence, including sexual harassment and sexual violence is offered regularly on the Seattle campus and by request at other UW locations

We are all responsible for understanding what sexual harassment is, taking action to prevent it from occurring, and knowing how to respond if it does occur. Beginning May 1, 2018, all schools, colleges, campuses, divisions, departments, programs, and offices can request in-person, customized training through Human Resources. In addition to the training focused on staff responsibilities offered through POD, this customized training can now be scheduled on a by-unit basis and geared to any combination of staff and faculty. Contact your Human Resources consultant to schedule a training.

These sessions will expand on a new training video, produced by Human Resources, Academic Personnel, and Compliance Services, “Preventing Sex Discrimination and Sexual Harassment in the Work Environment.” I expect every faculty and staff member to watch this training video. Look for additional training topics and resources to be made available this fall.

University policy also prohibits all employees from engaging in romantic relationships with students that create a conflict of interest or can be perceived to create a conflict of interest. It also prohibits exercising authority over a student with whom the employee has had a romantic relationship. Our policies also address potential conflicts of interest between employees. If you have questions or concerns regarding these policies, how “conflict of interest” is defined, or about developing a formal plan to manage a potential conflict, contact your supervisor, department chair or Human Resources or Academic Human Resources consultant.

The resources and trainings I’ve shared here are valuable, but we recognize that there is more work to be done. A Title IX workgroup is developing recommendations for enhanced education and outreach. Another group is addressing how to best assess our university climate on these issues, and a third is further clarifying employee responsibilities in preventing and responding to sexual violence and sexual harassment. The Title IX Steering Committee will be reviewing their recommendations in Autumn Quarter and the Faculty Senate will lead discussions about the significant role that faculty play in preventing and addressing sexual harassment. I look forward to sharing the results of this work with you.

If you have experienced or are aware of sexual harassment occurring at the UW, please inform your supervisor, department chair, unit administrator or Human Resources/AHR consultant, or call SafeCampus at 206-685-7233. You can also connect with a confidential advocate who will provide information about your rights and support resources. You may also reach out to Interim Title IX Coordinator Valery Richardson at or 206-616-9713.

As a community devoted to public service and grounded in respect for the inherent dignity and worth of every person, we share a responsibility to ensure that sexual harassment is never tolerated here. We all have an obligation to live up to those ideals, and to support each other in fostering a safe and healthy place to work and learn.