UMass Amherst Joins Collaborative Group to Prevent Sexual Harassment in Higher Education

UMass Amherst wordmark

UMass Amherst has joined with 43 other institutions and the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine to form an Action Collaborative on Preventing Sexual Harassment in Higher Education.

The Action Collaborative aims to move beyond basic legal compliance and achieve targeted, collective action toward evidence-based policies and practices at the individual and system levels for addressing and preventing all forms of sexual harassment and promoting a culture of civility and respect. Tricia R. Serio, dean of the College of Natural Sciences, and Professor Jennifer Normanly, head of the department of biochemistry and molecular biology, will take the lead representing the university with the Action Collaborative. Rolanda C. Burney, the chancellor’s chief of staff, will be an alternate representative.

Serio pointed to the university’s task force to address sexual violence, harassment and assault as an example of the ongoing commitment to address challenges to advance UMass Amherst’s workplace and learning climate with full participation of all constituencies.

“UMass is immersed in this important work and is committed to improving the climate for our working and learning communities,” Serio said. “Our participation with the national group will elevate our work and also provide us with new perspectives and best practices we can bring to campus to address this issue.”

The Action Collaborative has four main goals:

  • Raise awareness about sexual harassment and how it occurs, the consequences of sexual harassment and the organizational characteristics and recommended approaches that can prevent it.
  • Share and elevate evidence-based institutional policies and strategies to reduce and prevent sexual harassment.
  • Contribute to setting the research agenda, and gather and apply research results across institutions.
  • Develop a standard for measuring progress toward reducing and preventing sexual harassment in higher education.

A recent report by the National Academiesfound that between 20 percent and 50 percent of women students and more than 50 percent of women faculty and staff experienced sexually harassing behavior in academia. The report concludes that system-wide changes to the culture and climate in higher education are needed, and it provides a roadmap for making these changes.