The University of Wisconsin Board of Regents approved a new system for sharing employee sexual harassment allegations today.
The regent approval today means schools can now share sexual harassment allegation history of employees who are seeking employment at other institutions in the system.
This comes after UW Eau Claire hired Shawn Wilson as it’s interim dean of students last year. Wilson had sexual harassment allegations from his time at UW Stevens Point. Allegations that Stevens Point did not disclose to Eau Claire before they hired Wilson.
UW System president Ray Cross says that incident spurred this policy change.
In addition to allowing campuses to share sexual harassment allegation history, the plan that the regents approved today also requires campuses to document sexual harassment allegations in personnel files. It also requires all campus employers to determine if prospective employees have had sexual harassment allegations made against them.
But some regents worried this could harm employees who face false allegations. Regent Mike Jones says he’s concerned with due process issues in the proposal.
“You could have an unsubstantiated allegation in a file, and you could effectively be destroying someone’s career,” Jones says. “I support what we’re trying to do … But I think that this might cause some harm.”
Cross, though, says this move is necessary. He says they’ll work hard to craft a policy that doesn’t unnecessarily tarnish employee reputations while also keeping students safe.
Also at the meeting today, Cross assured the regents that the system was on-track for the July 1 deadline for merging the two year campuses with four year institutions. Cross and other advocates say the move will help preserve the two year colleges, which have seen steeply declining enrollment in past years.
But critics say the timeline for the proposal is too aggressive, and didn’t include enough input from faculty and staff.
Cross looked to dispel those concerns today. Last week the body that accredits the UW system schools approved the plan.
Cross announced today they’ll be waiving application fees at the two year campuses to encourage students to keep applying during the transition.
“We want to reassure prospective students that all campuses remain open and encourage them to apply and enroll,” Cross says.
The application fee waiver will run until September 7th. Reporting for WORT News, I’m Nina Kravinsky.