Sexual Harassment and Nepotism Policy Update Workshop

In March 2012, the EOAA office conducted four sessions of Sexual Harassment and Nepotism Policy Update on the Morris Campus. Gabrielle Mead and Maria Eustaquio facilitated the workshops on March 8 and Michael O’Day and Kimberly Swain Simon on March 28. Approximately 150 people participated, including the Chancellor, Vice Chancellors, faculty, supervisory and non-supervisory staff, and students. 


It is important for the University to provide educational programming to the full University community, and EOAA's goal is to provide more training opportunities on the campuses outside of the Twin Cities. Therefore, when Sarah Mattson, Director of Human Resources at UM-Morris, contacted EOAA, we were eager to provide the Morris community with this opportunity.


EOAA’s Sexual Harassment and Nepotism Policy Update workshop has several objectives: defining sexual harassment, understanding the prohibition on sexual harassment outlined in the University’s policy, and understanding the costs associated with sexual harassment policy violations. We also seek to educate the University community on recognizing the signs of potential harassment, learning how to respond to and report potential harassment, and discussing strategies for preventing harassment. Throughout the workshop, we identify resources for harassers, those targeted, managers and bystanders. In addition to the Sexual Harassment policy, we presented the Nepotism and Personal Relationships policy. The Nepotism and Personal Relationships policy governs conflicts of interest that may arise due to personal relationships among members of the University of Minnesota community. The policy generally states that if one person in the relationship has a direct influence over the other, a consultation with EOAA and a probable work around or alternate reporting structure may be necessary to protect the subordinate person. When relationships end, especially if the decision is from the person with less power, coercion to remain in the relationship could trigger the sexual harassment policy. In addition to concerns following the expiration of the relationship, there are concerns regarding the perception of colleagues, the impact on work or learning environments, and the implications of trust afforded to students. There is a potential intersection between sexual harassment and personal relationships in the workplace or academic setting, which supports discussing this policy in conjunction with learning about sexual harassment. Sometimes these two policies can become intertwined.


The facilitators reported great audience participation by the Morris attendees. They particularly seemed very responsive to the true/false quiz at the beginning of the workshop, which tested their knowledge on sexual harassment. In answering the quiz using clickers, a method of responding in real time anonymously, the audience was quite responsive in asking follow up questions. Similarly, when the participants were asked to work in groups on particular scenarios they seemed eager to come up with solutions for next steps, identify resources, and recommend corrective action. It was a great opportunity for the Twin Cities-based EOAA office to connect with another campus and to provide an educational opportunity to our community members at the Morris campus.