Climate Committee


To receive and act upon (as appropriate) concerns or complaints about the departmental climate, broadly defined.  Individual students (graduate or undergraduate), faculty, staff, postdocs, or others affiliated with the departments can report directly to any one (or more) member(s) of the committee.  All reports will be shared in regular meetings with the full committee.  The frequency of meetings is to be determined.  Students who wish to communicate concerns anonymously to the Faculty-Staff Climate Committee are encouraged to reach out to the SGSA Culture & Climate Committee (, which will share concerns with the Faculty-Staff Climate Committee with the student’s (or students’) permission.


The goal of this committee is to provide a clearly defined, easily accessible mechanism for addressing issues or incidents that negatively affect department climate.

The UW-Madison Department of Sociology and Department of Community & Environmental Sociology (hereafter the Joint Departments) have endorsed a set of Community Standards designed to promote professional development and improve climate.


2023-2024 members:  Tina Hunter (chair), Marcy Carlson, Jennifer Dykema, Charlotte Frascona, Ted Gerber, Eric Grodsky, Randy Stoecker, Malliga Somasundaram.

Four tenured faculty, Department administrators from both C & E Sociology and Sociology, and the Graduate program advisor.  Two of the four tenured faculty will be appointed by the department chairs (with executive committee approval required for appointment).  One of these two appointed faculty will be from C&E Sociology.  The remaining two tenured faculty will be chosen by the committee, in consultation with the department chair, from a list of four tenured faculty nominated by the Sociology Graduate Student Association (SGSA).  Tenured faculty will serve two-year (renewable) terms to facilitate continuity.  In appointing the committee, the chair should make efforts to reflect the diversity of the department. The chairs of Sociology and C&E Sociology will work in consultation with the committee or may be members of the committee. The chair of the Climate Committee will be elected once per year by its members.


Concerns or complaints that cannot be resolved by other established pathways (e.g., discussion between student(s) and instructor, reporting to DGS, dept. chair, graduate advisor, undergraduate advisor, or training directors.) The committee will take proactive steps to improve the climate and also respond to general climate issues that members are aware of.  However, it will not intercede directly with a specific individual or proceed with sanctions against an individual unless a formal complaint is made and the complainant requests that the committee take action.


  1. Committee member(s) receive report/complaint.
  2. Report/complaint is shared with the full committee.
  3. Committee determines if there is reporting responsibility (e.g., to Deans or Title IX, etc.).
  4. If reporting is mandatory, climate committee representative makes report. If reporting is not mandatory, climate committee provides information on reporting procedure (resources for reporting bias, harassment, assault can be found here).
  5. If complainant does not wish to file a report, committee discusses appropriate good-faith response (that is consistent with University policies/regulations), reports to chair, informs complainant, chair implements response.


Any action that involves a sanction against another member of the community (e.g., student removal from a class/brownbag, restriction on TA opportunities) can be appealed to the committee (or to the chair).


Complainants’ request for confidentiality and anonymity will be honored to the extent allowed by university policy and law. Deliberations internal to the department will always respect complainants’ requests for confidentiality/anonymity. In cases that involve mandatory reporting (e.g., to the Title IX office or to the Dean of Students), the committee cannot guarantee confidentiality/anonymity.

Conflicts of interest

If a complaint is made to the committee that involves a member of the committee, that member will recuse themselves from all deliberations pertaining to the complaint. More broadly, if any committee member has a conflict of interest with a complaint, they will recuse themselves. Complaints may also be made individually to the Chair or Associate Chair of the Department of Sociology and complainants may request that they not be forwarded to the Climate Committee.

Record keeping

To ensure that committee activities and actions are recorded as precedents, anonymized summaries of complaints, actions, and resolutions will be placed in the chair’s folder. No names will be included in these records to protect the privacy of individuals involved.


The committee will confer with the SGSA Culture & Climate Committee (and other leadership as necessary) to ensure that graduate students are apprised of efforts to address climate issues. This collaboration will also provide an additional pathway for students to report concerns, as they may raise climate issues with the SGSA CCC whose members can share them anonymously with the Faculty-Staff Climate Committee if the student approves.


In addition to responding to reports/complaints, the committee will take proactive steps to develop and support a positive department climate.

Examples of grievances

  • Discrimination based on gender, race/ethnicity, religion, disability, gender identity, or political views
  • Sexual harassment
  • Sexual violence
  • Power harassment
  • Climate concerns
  • Microaggressions

Reporting Resources

What to report and how

  1. Reporting and responding to incidents of bias

    Bias is officially defined as “acts toward an individual, group, or their property that are so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that they create an unreasonably intimidating, hostile, or offensive work, learning, or program environment, and that one could reasonably conclude are based upon actual or perceived age, race, color, creed, religion, gender identity or expression, ethnicity, national origin, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, political affiliation, marital status, spirituality, cultural, socio-economic status, or any combination of these or other related factors.” Incidents of bias or hate include such things as slurs, degrading language, epithets, graffiti, vandalism, intimidation, symbols, and harassment directed toward a targeted individual or group. These words and actions contribute to a hostile climate even if the act itself is unintentional or is delivered with humorous intent.

    More information is here.

    Bias incident report form

    Note that you may also report the incident in person to one of several campus offices listed on the Bias Reporting website.

  2. Reporting incidents of discrimination

    Discrimination is “conduct that adversely affects any aspect of an individual’s employment, education, or participation in an institution’s activities or programs, or has the effect of denying equal privileges or treatment to an individual on the basis of one more characteristics of that individual’s protected status or category.

    “Specific bases upon which discrimination is prohibited are delineated here.

    An employee wanting to file a discrimination complaint should contact the Office of Compliance in 361 Bascom Hall, e-mail:, phone: 608-265-6018.

    There are two processes for resolving complaints of discrimination: alternative resolution and formal investigation. You’re encouraged to try to resolve concerns informally first, if possible.

    A student who wishes to file a discrimination complaint against a fellow student who is acting in his/her role as a student should contact the Dean of Students ( at the Division of Student Life in 70 Bascom Hall, phone: 608-263-5700.

    A student who wants to file a discrimination complaint against a fellow student who is acting in his/her role as a University employee (e.g., teaching assistant, res hall assistant, student hourly employee) or against any other employee of the University should contact staff in the Office of Compliance by e-mailing

  3. Reporting incidents of sex discrimination, sexual harassment, sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, or stalking

    Any member of the University community–student, faculty, or staff–who has been subjected to sexual discrimination, harassment, assault, violence, or stalking is encouraged to report these incidents to the University. In cases involving criminal misconduct, you have, in addition, the right to report to the UW-Madison police or to the local law enforcement office that has jurisdiction over the location where the incident occurred (e.g., the Madison Police). Note, however, that reporting is not mandatory. If you decide to report, you have several options:

    The rights of students and employees who choose to report, as well as resources available on campus and in the Madison community are detailed here.

    (a) Reporting sexual assault

    Please be aware that any UW-Madison employee who is not a confidential resource is required, by state law, to notify the Office of the Dean of Students when he or she witnesses a sexual assault on campus or receives a report from a student that the student was sexually assaulted. The report does not have to include personally identifiable information, however. In addition, any UW-Madison employee who is not a confidential resource is required, by Title IX (a federal law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex in educational programs and activities that receive federal financial assistance) and University policy, to notify the Title IX Coordinator, Lauren Hasselbacher (, phone: 608-890-3788), of any reports of sexual assault they receive.

    Moreover, any UW-Madison employee who is designated a Campus Security Authority has an obligation to report sexual assaults they are made aware of to the University’s Director of Clery Compliance, Elisa Lopez (, and to the Title IX Coordinator, Lauren Hasselbacher (  The faculty and staff in Sociology with a Campus Security Authority designation are Eric Grodsky (chair), Lyn Macgregor (undergrad advisor), and Charlotte Frascona (grad program advisor).

    Information about the Clery Act (a federal law requiring higher education institutions to establish security and safety policies and to disclose certain crime statistics) and the duties of Campus Security Authorities is here:

    (b) Reporting sex discrimination or sexual harassment

    The campus policy on sexual harassment is here

    Students, faculty, or staff who have experienced sex discrimination or sexual harassment are encouraged to report this to the University. You are not required to do so, though. If you choose to report the incident, you may discuss it with a confidential resource, a University employee, or the police. (See the options listed above.)

    If you decide to report, please be aware that any UW-Madison employee who is not a confidential resource is required, by Title IX and University policy, to notify the Title IX Coordinator, Lauren Hasselbacher (, of any reports of sex discrimination or sexual harassment they receive.

    (c) Reporting dating violence, domestic violence, or stalking

    Again, students, faculty, and staff subjected to these incidents are encouraged to report them to the University and to the police; however, you are not required to do so. If you choose to report the incident, you may discuss it with a confidential resource, a University employee, or the police. (See the options listed above.)  If you decide to report to a University employee who is a designated Campus Security Authority (in Sociology the CSAs are Christine SchwartzEllen Jacobson, and Charlotte Frascona), that person will be obliged to report the incident to the UW Director of Clery Compliance, Jaimee Gilford (, and to the Title IX Coordinator, Lauren Hasselbacher (