Report of the Rutgers University Committee on Sexual Harassment Prevention and Culture Change

May 14, 2019

Dear Members of the Rutgers Community:

When the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine issued its report in June 2018 noting sexual harassment persists in higher education, the Academies called on academic institutions to reduce sexual harassment by making systemic cultural changes that demonstrate how seriously they take the issue, and that they are listening and supporting those who speak up to report their experiences.

In response to the report and in keeping with Rutgers’ strong commitment to prevent and respond to sexual misconduct, President Barchi asked me in the fall of 2018 to lead a universitywide Committee on Sexual Harassment Prevention and Culture Change. The committee, comprised of 45 faculty and staff members and students, met over several months on six subcommittees to consider and propose recommendations on areas including consensual relationships, bringing greater transparency to our reporting and findings of harassment, training for faculty and staff, and assessment of the effectiveness of our approaches.

The committee has completed its collaborative work and has recommended creating new policies and providing additional procedures and resources to foster an environment free from sexual and gender-based harassment for every member of our Rutgers community.

I invite you to read the Report of the Rutgers University Committee on Sexual Harassment Prevention and Culture Change. The recommendations, which aim to strengthen Rutgers’ nationally recognized commitment to preventing harassment and sexual misconduct and providing significant resources to survivors of sexual harassment and assault, include:

Consensual Relationships. The committee recommends the University develop a new policy that prohibits relationships where there is a significant power differential. A new policy would prohibit relationships between employees or University affiliates and undergraduates; between employees or affiliates who supervise, evaluate, teach, manage, or advise graduate students; between intercollegiate athletics coaches or club coaches, affiliates, and their staff and student athletes; and between employees or affiliates who teach, manage, supervise, advise, or evaluate another employee.

Training and information. The committee recommends the University create new training programs for deans, chairs, faculty, staff, and students on the prevention of and how to deal with harassment in any form. Assessment mechanisms to ensure that the training is effective and responsive to University needs would also be created. All new training initiatives would complement sexual harassment training already taking place at Rutgers for new and current employees.

Transparency and assessment.  Each chancellor-led unit of Rutgers University should perform an environmental survey to establish baseline experiences of students, graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, faculty and staff regarding mistreatment or harassment of any kind, whether on the basis of sex or gender, race, national origin/ethnicity, religion, disability, sexual orientation, LGBTQ status, and other characteristic. The committee also recommends providing a real-time electronic mechanism for reporting inappropriate behavior, a way for students in clinical and field settings to report harassment from third parties, and sufficient resources to maintain and coordinate ongoing assessment efforts.

The committee recommends issuing annual reports on harassment and sexual misconduct complaints and cases involving both employees and students, and to communicate to complainants the outcome of investigations and what sanctions were imposed.

Personnel procedures. If an employee has violated our policy against harassment (or those of other institutions), or other Rutgers policies, the committee recommends ways to ensure that reports documenting violations be placed in an employee’s official personnel file and made available to individuals and committees involved in reappointment, promotion and tenure recommendations (already permitted under University policy). Additional recommendations include ensuring that the merit pay process takes documented findings of unprofessional conduct into account.

Thank you to the committee members who worked intensively to draft these significant recommendations to tackle the ongoing and troubling issue of sexual harassment, which has no place at Rutgers. You can read the full report, including the subcommittees’ reports, here and provide comments to svpaa-reports@oq.rutgers.edu. The process of implementing these recommendations has already begun, and will continue throughout the summer and the coming academic year.

Sincerely,

Barbara A. Lee
Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs