This paper reports on the evolution of discourse and practices related to sexual harassment at a large private university in the northeast US. Fifteen years ago, statistics on sexual harassment were slim and campus conversations about sexual harassment were non-existent. An NSF-funded ADVANCE Institutional Transformation Project with a goal of increasing the representation and advancement of women STEM faculty brought a number of interventions to the campus starting in 2012. Over the past five years, several initiatives grounded in the work of ADVANCE have created momentum towards change with regard to prevalence, reporting, and prevention of sexual harassment. These include a Women’s Caucus within faculty governance, a campus-wide workshop on sexual harassment, unit-level bystander awareness/action workshops, and a qualitative study of the lived experiences of women students at the university. The current state of the university is discussed, including reporting patterns among students and employees, transparency of sexual harassment data, challenges in the communication and interpretation of this data, and a growing chorus of voices joining the campus conversation. Subject matter experts from across divisional and college lines are coming together to share perspectives and “connect the dots” regarding the prevalence and solutions of sexual harassment on campus. In a desired future state for the university, sexual harassment would be minimized in an environment where robust educational efforts would link university core values with workplace environment expectations, and development and accountability of academic leaders at all levels would be rigorous. The paper explores how this notion of a desired future state has motivated rich conversations exploring outcomes, policy, practices, and metrics to answer questions such as “what does the future desired state look like?” and “how do we know if we are moving in the right direction?” and “are we there yet?”.

Date of creation, presentation, or exhibit



Presented at the Second Annual Public Summit of the Action Collaborative on Preventing Sexual Harassment in Higher Education, October 19-20, 2020.

Document Type


Department, Program, or Center

Mechanical Engineering (KGCOE)


RIT – Main Campus