Inside Iowa State
February 19, 1999
Espinoza: Harassment education effort planned
by Anne Dolan
If a work or study environment is hostile enough, a victim doesn't have to "lose" anything (job, promotion, degree) to take legal action for sexual harassment, said assistant vice president for human resource services Carla Espinoza during a forum on sexual harassment. Court cases have raised the standard of what sexual harassment is, she said. The discussion preceded the P&S Council's regular meeting Feb. 4.
Reviewing other case summaries, Espinoza also noted that participation in a relationship doesn't mean acceptance or willingness, and that an employer faces a bigger liability when the harasser is a manager. Employers can reduce their liability by writing and announcing policies and procedures that address the problem and clearly define how employees can report offensive conduct.
Espinoza said that later this year, Iowa State will begin an "aggressive effort" to educate all supervisors on campus about ISU's sexual harassment policy and to train them in harassment reporting and prevention.
The potential effect of doing nothing about educating employees is a hostile work environment and a poor reputation for the university as an employer, she said. Espinoza added that she is encouraged by the number of questions she has received from deans about taking corrective action in potential instances of harassment. "It's more than any school I've been at. I find that very promising," she said.
In other business:
The next meeting of the council begins at 2 p.m. Thursday, March 4, in the Memorial Union Pioneer Room. The noon open forum will be a discussion about diversity in job searches, led by the staff in ISU's affirmative action office.
- The council tabled until March a motion for council members to sign a pledge supporting an alcohol-free Veishea this spring and encouraging other P&S staff to do the same.
- Assistant provost Ellen Rasmussen reported that the P&S tuition grant program, which is in the second year of a funding experiment, will be overdrawn by at least $5,000 this year. Under the conditions of the pilot program, administrators agree to cover any disbursements beyond the $98,000 provided for the fund by the offices of the president, the provost and the vice president for business and finance.
- Council president Rob Bowers reported that, due to a lack of volunteers, the P&S Council will not assist with planning a spring professional development event this year.
- The council's annual discussion lunch for P&S staff will be held Thursday, April 1. Staff are invited to attend to provide input to the council in areas including classification and compensation, family/personal job flexibility, ISU benefits, and personnel evaluation and salary notification.
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