Say no: Resources to promote well-being of Washburn

Harassment and discrimination are serious issues and are particularly of concern to universities where there are numerous students and employees from a variety of backgrounds who have a right to feel welcome and safe on campus. 

Washburn has multiple policies and programs in place that are committed to maintaining a safe and welcoming environment for students and staff. Harassment and discrimination are uncomfortable subjects, but it is important that every student and employee is aware of university policies and resources that create a safe working and studying environment. 

Any individual who feels they have been the target of or witnessed harassment or discrimination can speak to their supervisor (the supervisor of the offender), a professor, an advisor or directly to the director of Equal Opportunity Pamela Foster.

“[Concerns can be brought] to a professor and the professor can refer it to here,” said Foster. “They can go about any place they wanted or they can go here. Sometimes people are afraid to go to professors, especially if that is the person causing the problem.”

There are multiple resources in place at Washburn to promote a safe campus environment. Washburn offers ALLY training to increase knowledge and awareness of the variety of backgrounds of the students and staff. Counseling services are another resource for concerned students and employees. 

“Counseling services are free to students and staff. That’s pretty valuable as a resource,” said Cynthia Waskowiak, university compliance officer. 

The “Washburn University Policies, Regulations and Procedure Manual” can be found on the university website. Policies regarding harassment or discrimination can be found in the manual as well as wrongful conduct and protection from retaliation policies. 

Washburn has specific policies and resources in place for sexual harassment. All new employees of the university are required to take online sexual harassment training. Sexual harassment is defined in the Equal Opportunity Office pamphlet as “unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature.” 

The university provides training and literature to teach about what constitutes sexual harassment. The university stresses that the impact of behaviors, not the intent, is used to determine if an action can be defined as sexual harassment. 

“Sexual harassment doesn’t necessarily have to be directed at you,” said Waskowiak. 

If a student or employee is concerned about the behavior of a student or employee, one of the resources in place is the University Behavioral Assessment Team (UBAT). The goal of the team is to respond to concerns about student, faculty or staff behavior that is troubling, disruptive or threatening. The team is an interdisciplinary group of members from various units of the university. 

According to UBAT, troubling behavior is any behavior that “causes us to feel alarmed, upset or worried for person’s well being.” Disruptive behavior is any behavior that “interferes with or interrups the education process of other students or the normal business functions of the University.” Threatening behavior is defined as any behavior that “typically leaves us feeling frightened and in fear for our safety or the safety of others.”

The UBAT pamphlets that can be found in the human resources department emphasize that concerned individuals should not attempt to diagnose their concerns, but instead report the concern to any member of UBAT. The list of individuals to contact can be found on the back of the UBAT pamphlet and includes the dean of students, chief of police and director of counseling services. 

Any student or employee of the university that feels unsafe or discriminated against on the basis of a protected status such as gender, religion, or ethnicity should raise their concerns with any professor or employee they feel comfortable with. 

Any concerns may also be brought directly to the director of equal opportunity, so that even if the concern is in regards to a superior or professor, it can be voiced without fear of confrontation.