Dealing with Inappropriate Behavior by Staff and Students Q and A

Note: If you are a student, wishing to file a complaint, please follow the student complaint process located at

1. Have You Exhausted Informal Means of Solving Problems?

  1. Communicate your concerns to the party or parties involved and attempt to resolve.
  2. Talk to the immediate supervisor of the individual(s) involved.
  3. Contact an advocate for advice -
    1. Women and Gender Issues Coordinator
    2. Student Support Services
    3. Residence Hall Manager
    4. Governance groups - Student/Faculty/Academic Staff Senates
    5. Union Steward.
  4. Request mediation.
  5. Contact Student Health Service or Employee Assistance Program.

2.  What Kind of Issues are Involved? (See definitions below)

  1. "Discriminatory conduct" means intentional conduct by university employees or students, including physical conduct or expressive behavior, that explicitly demeans the race, sex, religion, color, creed, disability, sexual orientation, national origin, ancestry, age or other legally protected characteristic of an individual or individuals and (1) has the purpose or effect of interfering with the education, university-related work, or other university authorized activity of a university student, employee, official or guest; or (2) creates an intimidating, hostile or demeaning environment for education, university-related work, or other university authorized activity.
  2. "Sexual Harassment" means unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other physical conduct and expressive behavior of a sexual nature where: (1) submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual's employment or education; (2) submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for academic or employment decisions affecting that individual; or (3) such conduct has the purpose or effect of substantially interfering with an individual's academic or professional performance or creating an intimidating, hostile or demeaning employment or educational environment.
  3. "Academic misconduct" is an act in which a student (1) seeks to claim credit for the work or efforts of another without authorization or citation; (2) uses unauthorized materials or fabricated data in any academic exercise; (3) forges or falsifies academic documents or records; (4) intentionally impedes or damages the academic work of others; (5) engages in conduct aimed at making false representation of a student's academic performance; or (6) assists other students in any of these acts. 
  4. "Non-academic misconduct" subject to disciplinary action include the following situations: (1) for conduct which constitutes a serious danger to the personal safety of a member of the university community or guest; (2) for stalking or non-sexual harassment; (3) for conduct that seriously damages or destroys university property, or the property of a member of the university community or guest; (4) for conduct that obstructs or seriously impairs university run or university authorized activities, or that interferes with or impedes the ability of a member of university community, or guest, to participate in university-run or authorized activities; (5) for unauthorized possession of university property or property of another member of the university community or guests; (6) for acts which violate the provisions of Chapter 18, University of Wisconsin System policies on conduct on university lands; (7) for knowingly making a false statement to any university employee or agent regarding a university matter, or for refusing to identify oneself to such employee or agent; and (8) for violating a standard of conduct, or other requirement or restriction imposed in connection with disciplinary action.
  5. "Complaints" are allegations of misbehavior made by the administration, students, academic staff members, faculty members, classified staff members, or members of the public concerning conduct by a staff member which violates university rules or policies, or which adversely affects the member's performance of his/her obligation to the university. This definition does not cover allegations of misbehavior or work rule violations brought by the supervisors of academic staff or classified staff.
  6. "Grievances" are personnel problems involving a staff member's expressed feeling of unfair treatment or dissatisfaction with aspects of working conditions within the institution that are outside her/his control. In the case of union represented staff, a grievance is a written complaint involving an alleged violation of a specific provision of the labor agreement.

3.  What are the Procedures?

The procedures vary, depending on whether the grievant and accused are students or members of the faculty, academic staff, or classified staff.

Faculty - The following procedures apply if the accused is a faculty member or if a faculty member has a grievance. (See Unclassified Staff Handbook):

  • UWS Ch. 4* and UW-Sup Ch. 4** - Dismissal for Cause apply when a complaint is deemed substantial and, if true, might lead to dismissal.
  • UWS Ch. 6 and UW-Sup Ch. 6 - Complaints/Grievances apply when a complaint is deemed not serious enough to warrant dismissal or when a faculty member has a grievance.

In either case, the complaint/grievance goes to the Chancellor who follows the procedures outlined in either Chapter 4 or 6.

Academic Staff - The following procedures apply if the accused is an academic staff member of if an academic staff member has a grievance. (See Unclassified Staff Handbook):

  • UWS Ch. 11 and UW-Sup Ch. 11 - Dismissal of Academic Staff for Causeapply when the complaint is deemed substantial and, if true, might lead to dismissal. The complaint goes to the Chancellor.
  • UWS Ch. 13 and UW-Sup. Ch. 13 - Complaints and Grievancesshould be referred to the Academic Staff Senate in writing. The procedures followed by the Academic Staff Senate are outlined in UW-Sup 13.03.

Classified Staff - Disciplinary action against classified staff for work rule violations should be directed at the employee's supervisor or Director of Human Resources. Grievances brought by classified staff should go through the appropriate union representative or, in the case of non-represented classified staff, through the immediate supervisor or Director of Human Resources.

Student - The following procedures apply if the accused is a student. (Student Handbook or Social Issues)

Discrimination/Sexual Harassment complaints, including Title IX, against any member of the campus community can be filed with a University agent (Department Chair, Dean, Director or immediate supervisor) or the Affirmative Action Officer. The Discrimination/Sexual Harassment Policy identifies the procedures that will be followed in each case. 

All handbooks/policies can be found on the UW-S Human Resources Policies and Procedures, Unclassified Staff Handbook, and Classified Staff Handbook pages.

The UW System Administrative Rules are on the UW System Home page

*UWS refers to University of Wisconsin System Administrative Code
**UW-Sup refers to the University of Wisconsin - Superior Personnel Rules.