U of I Committee Recommends Changes To Harassment Policies
A University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign committee released on Tuesday its recommended changes to how the university handles claims of sexual misconduct against faculty.
The much-anticipated recommendations include broadening the campus’s definition of sexual harassment and overhauling discipline procedures. In January, UIUC Provost Andreas Cangellaris asked the committee, comprised of professors and administrators, to review current policies, and recommend sanctions and other “supportive measures” to respond to policy violations. He also asked the committee to identify best practices regarding the confidentiality of investigations.
An NPR Illinois and ProPublica investigation from August detailed cases where the university used confidentiality agreements with professors who had been found in violation of policy and were allowed to resign. Cangellaris previously told NPR Illinois that the university had already decided to end the use of the clauses.
“We haven’t always done the best job, and we need to do better,” said Robin Kar, the UIUC law professor who chaired the committee. He said his goal has been to “create a system of policies and procedures that can take us into a new era.”
UIUC Chancellor Robert Jones said the topic of sexual harassment is one university leadership takes seriously and he admits there is room for improvement: “This is one of the top priorities for building the kind of climate that we need to move the university forward as a safe and enjoyable and rewarding place to work, play and live.”
The report comes after a year of public scrutiny of the university’s handling of several cases of harassment allegations against professors. The NPR Illinois-ProPublica investigation uncovered three previously unreported cases where professors accused of misconduct were found in violation of campus policy. One stayed on faculty. The two others resigned quietly after periods of paid leave and went on to other out-of-state appointments.
Campus officials said they will convene another committee charged with refining and implementing the recommendations of Kar’s committee. A timeline for implementation is not yet clear.
The entire committee report is here.