The Action Collaborative’s Progress and Accomplishments in the Third Year
CONVENINGS AND INFORMATION GATHERING
PUBLIC SUMMIT: The Action Collaborative facilitated a successful virtual 2021 Public Summit (the third Action Collaborative public summit), October 12-13, 2021, with over 700 registrants and co-hosted by Duke University. Relevant research and novel and informative approaches were shared on:
- The Influence of Power Differentials on Sexual Harassment and Ideas for Reducing them to Prevent Sexual Harassment and Reduce Harm (See also the National Academies feature story on this session: “Rebalancing Power to Combat Sexual Harassment”)
- Organizational Ombuds: History, Expansion and Cultural Impacts
- Development and Piloting of Faculty Staff ARC3 Survey, and Pandemic Results from ARC3
- Engaging Men in Preventing Sexual Harassment
- Considering Risk in Higher Education: Effects on Communities and Work Groups, and the Long Term Perspective
- Bystander Intervention in Harassment Situations: Measuring Behavior and Adapting Student Prevention Models for Faculty and Staff
- Comprehensive Approaches to Assessing Climate and Measuring Prevalence through Surveys
- New Efforts and Ideas on Addressing Pass the Harasser Collectively
- New Kinds of Prevention Education for Leaders: Toolkits, Train-the-Trainer, and Focusing on Organizational Climate
Video recordings, slides, and poster presentations are available on the 2021 Summit page.
MEMBERS MEETING: The Action Collaborative’s 2022 Members Meeting, held April 20-21, 2022, focused on providing opportunities for collaborative discussions on addressing and preventing sexual harassment and on pursuing the organizational change needed to make the systemwide changes in higher education. The Members Meeting sessions included:
- “Civility-Promotion and Prosocial Behavior”: organized by members of the Prevention Working Group, panelists held an exploratory discussion with Action Collaborative members to examine what it means for higher education institutions to endorse behaviors that build on civility (e.g., prosocial behaviors, positive social behaviors, etc.). The goal of this session was to consider what higher education institutions can do to expand on current civility work in hopes of creating robust programs that support healthier environments and more adequately prevent sexual harassment.
- “Continuing the Conversation on Organizational Change – Procedural Justice and Faculty Governance”: this discussion included a presentation by the Prevention Working Group on making use of procedural justice principles to guide improvements and revisions to policies, processes, and practices, and to increase perceptions of fairness. The discussion also considered and examined approaches that institutions have used or could use to work with faculty governance structures to make systemic changes for preventing and addressing sexual harassment.
- “Strategies for Addressing the Predictors and Symptoms of Harm”: this session, organized by members of the Honor, Support, and Reintegration Subgroup of the Remediation Working Group, featured an interactive discussion with members of the Action Collaborative to consider additional strategies for responding to predictors and symptoms of harm. Members of the Subgroup also shared their public Call for Information that requests information on strategies for responding to the predictors and symptoms of harm.
- “Supporting Leaders in Taking Action Using Climate Data”: organized by members of the Evaluation Working Group, this session approached the challenge facing institutions in knowing how to facilitate the engagement of campus decision-makers (e.g., department chairs, directors of graduate studies, chancellors for research, etc.) with climate data summaries relevant to communities under their leadership. The Evaluation Working Group is currently working to develop a perspective paper that builds on this discussion.
- “Questions and Considerations when Creating Policies for Reference Checks, Handling Disclosures in Hiring, and Preventing ‘Pass the Harasser’”: during this session, the Response Working Group gathered information on the questions and considerations that come up when determining how an institution will implement policies and practices to prevent the systemic problem known as “passing the harasser” – when faculty members found responsible for sexual harassment can quietly resign and seek employment at another institution without notifying their new employer of their past
misconduct. Members also discussed what evaluation or monitoring could be implemented to watch for unintended consequences from the policies and identified areas for improvement for these very innovative and new approaches to hiring within higher education. The Response Working Group is currently work to develop a perspective paper that builds on this discussion.
SENIOR LEADERS MEETING: On April 22, 2022, the Action Collaborative held a Senior Leaders Meeting for the leaders from the Action Collaborative Member Organizations to convene to:
- Discuss the complexities of handling issues of sexual harassment;
- Examine the structural challenges and processes within higher education institutions that affect efforts to prevent and respond to sexual harassment;
- Share and explore strategies for practicing institutional courage;
- Reassess organizational risk in light of the research that shows “organizational climate” predicts the occurrence of sexual harassment.
Participants included presidents/chancellors, provosts, chiefs of staff, members of boards of directors or trustees, general counsel, or chief diversity, equity, and inclusion officers. The meeting included three research presentations on the factors that allow sexual harassment to thrive (by Dr. Lilia Cortina, University of Michigan), the causes and outcomes of persistent unethical behavior (by Dr. Minette E. Drumwright, The University of Texas at Austin), and using institutional courage to address sexual harassment (by Dr. Jennifer J. Freyd, Center for Institutional Courage). Each presentation was followed by small group discussions of newly created case
studies that reflect the complex scenarios that many senior leaders in higher education are likely to encounter. The case study discussions focused on using the research presentations to guide action and decision making; to identify complexities, challenges, and opportunities that are common across institutions and organizations; and to examine and address the longer term risks.
DISCUSSION OF PROPOSED TITLE IX RULES: On August 5, 2022, the Action Collaborative held a Member Event on the U.S. Department of Education’s recently released proposed changes to Title IX regulations. This event included an overview of the proposed changes, with a review of how the proposed regulations align with the research on sexual harassment. The event also included a discussion panel with individuals from different types of institutions, roles within institutions, and different backgrounds. The discussion among panelists and the audience focused on identifying parts of the rules that are encouraging or concerning and examining how the regulations align with prevention and trauma-informed practices.
PRODUCTS AND RESOURCES
APPLYING PROCEDURAL JUSTICE TO SEXUAL HARASSMENT POLICIES, PROCESSES, AND PRACTICES: The Prevention Working Group published a perspective paper that explores how a procedural justice framework could help guide improvements and revisions to policies, processes, and practices within higher education institutions with the potential to mitigate the negative experiences and outcomes of those affected by sexual harassment. The paper was presented at the Action Collaborative’s 2022 Members Meeting and discussed with Member Organizations. The authors of this paper encourage institutions to apply procedural justice so that policies, processes, and practices strive to promote increased perceptions of fairness and trust for those in the organization. The perspective paper is available for free at: https://www.nationalacademies.org/news/2022/04/applying-procedural-justice-to-sexual-harassment-policies-processes-and-practices
THE ROLE CIVILITY PROMOTION PROGRAMS CAN PLAY IN PREVENTING SEXUAL HARASSMENT IN DIFFERENT HIGHER EDUCATION ENVIRONMENTS: The Prevention Working Group commissioned researchers Drs. Dana Kabat-Farr and Benjamin M. Walsh to write a landscape paper that details the current state of the field and the impacts of a civil environment and civility promotion programs. The authors also performed a literature search and created a table (found in the Appendix of the commissioned paper) that summarizes existing civility promotion programs. This can be used as a tool to identify programs that are best suited for a particular environment. The commissioned paper is available for free under the “Resources” section of the Working Group’s page.
INNOVATIVE PRACTICES TO STOP PASSING THE HARASSER: Members of the Response Working Group compiled comprehensive descriptions of two innovative practices from the University of Wisconsin System and the University of California, Davis on policies and practices for stopping what is called “passing the harasser.” The Innovative Practice publications detail how the policies work and what processes were used to develop and implement them, with the aim of enabling other organizations to adapt and apply it to their own environment. The Innovative Practice descriptions are available for free:
- Innovative Practice – Stop “Passing the Harasser” Policy at the University of California, Davis: https://www.nationalacademies.org/news/2022/04/innovative-practice-university-of-california-davis-stop-passing-the-harasser-policy
- Innovative Practice – Stop “Passing the Harasser” Policy at the University of Wisconsin System: https://www.nationalacademies.org/news/2022/04/innovative-practice-university-of-wisconsin-system-stop-passing-the-harasser-policy
GUIDANCE FOR MEASURING SEXUAL HARASSMENT PREVALENCE USING CAMPUS CLIMATE SURVEYS: In September 2021, the Action Collaborative’s Evaluation Working Group released guidance on measuring sexual harassment prevalence using campus climate surveys. Measuring the prevalence of sexual harassment on a campus can be achieved by collecting population-based data in the form of a large-scale survey such as a campus climate survey. The ability for such a survey to do so accurately, however, depends on many factors, and it can be challenging for the team tasked with developing and implementing a climate survey to determine what those factors are. To help the higher education ecosystem conduct climate surveys that align with best practices identified by research, the authors produced the guide and a recorded presentation on the paper, which provides key considerations for each step in the climate assessment process. The guidance document is available for free at: https://www.nationalacademies.org/news/2021/09/guidance-for-measuring-sexual-harassment-prevalence-using-campus-climate-surveys
PUBLIC COMMENT ON PROPOSED TITLE IX RULES: In an August 23, 2022 letter to the Department of Education, the Leadership and Advisory Groups for the Action Collaborative shared relevant information from the National Academies consensus report, Sexual Harassment of Women, and from the activities of the Action Collaborative to inform revisions to the proposed Title IX rules.
SHARING DESCRIPTIONS OF WORK FROM MEMBER AND PARTNER NETWORK ORGANIZATIONS: In its third year, the Action Collaborative collected over 45 descriptions of innovative, novel, or significant work from member and partner network organizations and added them into the Action Collaborative’s online repository (additional information on member and partner network organizations’ Year 3 descriptions of work can be found in the section of this report on “Summary of Work by Action Collaborative Member and Partner Network Organizations in Year 3”).