Program Aims to Curb Workplace Discrimination

KATIE GOODRICH | Asst. News Editor

Every Butler University employee must take an online training course about sexual harassment.

Provost Kathryn Morris deferred to Human Resources regarding the online trainings.

In an email statement, La Veda Howell, executive director of human resources, said the initiative launched in  May 2013 and came to fruition this month.

The training will allow people to recognize and report potential harassment, according to the statement.

“It is the responsibility of each member of the University community to understand and act in accordance with University policy and state and federal mandates regarding unlawful harassment,” Howell said in the statement. “We are committed to creating a safe, welcoming, and healthy workplace at Butler University.”

The training consists of slideshows concerning relevant laws about sexual harassment, bullying and proper workplace behavior.

Bob Dale, the department chair for psychology, had to take both training courses, one for all employees and one for supervisors.

The course for all employees covers proper behavior and the laws, while the supervisor course instructs on how to handle the situation.

“The restrictions of what supervisors can do is quite clear and quite severe,” Dale said. “Human resources wants to take care of personnel problems. They essentially say leave the investigating to us.”

The training should last approximately 45 minutes, but it took Dale over an hour because he did the extra suggested reading.

Dale said he has not taken a course like this in over a decade.

The last course he took was in person with a lawyer covering all the facts in a seminar setting.

“I found it more useful online,” Dale said. “It was new information, partly because there are new laws. It was well-organized, and the scenarios were reasonably well chosen.”

While Dale said he finds the courses useful, he said he does not think they are necessary for every employee at Butler.

“For most of the people that work at Butler, we know how to behave and what is appropriate,” he said. “There are some workers that needed to be reminded that the range of acceptable behavior in a workplace is more narrow than it was 30 years ago. I am sure that there would be some people on campus that will look at the scenarios and say, ‘Oh, I do this, I shouldn’t do this anymore.’”

The training helps Butler hold people accountable for their actions if they act inappropriately, Dale said.

“I think Butler had to do it to show it acted with due diligence in case such incidents should arise,” he said.

James Danko, Butler’s president, was asked about the training during the Faculty Town Hall last Thursday.

“I don’t think I was on this campus for two or three weeks when I was approached by more than a few people complaining that we did a poor job concerning these things,” Danko said. “There were some questions about our HR department’s focus or competence setting forth what is appropriate or inappropriate.”

The university does have an obligation, a legal right moral right to make sure the nuances of sexual harassment are communicated throughout all levels of employment, Danko said.

While the administration values the training, some students are not sure about the benefits the program will have for campus.

Katie Califano, a junior intramural supervisor, said she has not taken the training because she has not had time.

“When I got the email, I was really confused about what it was,” Califano said. “I did not know about it.”

She said the initial email was vague about how many courses she had to complete.

“I guess I have to take two since I am a supervisor,” Califano said. “I couldn’t tell because the email was so unclear.”

Califano said everyone should know about harassment and the different types of it in the workplace.

“It is important,” she said. “I didn’t even know about the training though, so it won’t be as beneficial.”

Dale said he believes the training could be a benefit for the entire campus.

“Personally, I would like to see everyone take it,” he said, “even students who aren’t employed.”