Sexual Violence at an Internship or Co-Op

University of Wisconsin–Madison is committed to taking prompt and effective steps intended to end sexual harassment or violence, prevent its recurrence and, as appropriate, remedy its effects. If you, a student of the University, are participating in an internship or co-op experience, know that the University offers support if you
experience sexual harassment or violence.

UW–Madison’s Policy on Sexual Harassment and Sexual Violence
The mission of the University of Wisconsin–Madison (university) is to provide a teaching, learning and working environment in which faculty, staff, students, and guests can discover, examine critically, preserve, and transmit knowledge, wisdom, and values that will improve the quality of life for all. To promote the institutional mission, the university is committed to creating and maintaining a campus community that is free from sexual harassment and sexual violence.

Prohibited conduct, as defined by UW–Madison’s Policy on Sexual Harassment and Sexual Violence, includes:

  • Sexual Harassment
  • Sexual Assault
  • Dating Violence
  • Domestic Violence
  • Stalking
  • Sexual Exploitation
  • Retaliation

Considerations if You Experience Sexual Harassment or Violence During Your Internship or Co-Op

  • Trust your instincts and take any threat to your safety seriously. You have a right to participate in your
    internship free of harassment.
  • Seek personal support, resources, and accommodations (listed below). You are not alone.
  • Determine if reporting the sexual harassment or violence is the right step for you. It is your choice.
  • Understand that your legal rights vary depending on the nature of your internship.

Support Resources
Experiencing sexual harassment or violence during an internship or co-op can be difficult, and we encourage you to connect with the personal support resources that make the most sense for you. They might be on campus or in your community. Please, however, understand that certain offices on campus and organizations in the community are mandated by law to report when sexual harassment and sexual violence may have occurred. An example would be your career advisor or internship coordinator on campus. On the other hand, there are also confidential resources on campus and in the community as well. These offices allow survivors to share their experiences without a reporting sexual harassment or violence to authorities.

The University offers accommodations designed to promote your safety, well-being, and continued access to educational programs and activities to the extent these accommodations are reasonably available and requested. Accommodations and protective measures are available regardless of whether you report your experience for investigation.

To maintain confidentiality as you seek accommodations, we recommend contacting Survivor Services at UHS. Other offices/departments on campus that can support accommodations and are not confidential include: Sexual Misconduct Resource and Response Program, your career services office, and/or the Dean of Students Office.

If you determine that reporting sexual misconduct and/or or violence to authorities is the right step for you, various reporting and investigation options will be available depending on the particular circumstances of your internship:

  • University: The University’s Sexual Misconduct Resource and Response Program office addresses sexual misconduct in University activities and programs, including by conducting formal investigations. For more information about their processes, please visit the Sexual Misconduct Resource and Response Program’s website
  • Internship Site Human Resources: In addition to reporting your experience to the University, consider reporting to the HR team at your internship organization.
  • Law Enforcement: You are encouraged to contact the police if you have concerns about your personal safety and/or wish to seek criminal action in the case of sexual misconduct. Connect with local police or UW Police Department depending on where you are physically located during your internship or co-op.

Legal Rights Vary
The nature of your internship, including whether your internship is for University credit and whether you are considered an employee at your internship site, could impact your legal options. Educate yourself on the specifics of your situation. Paid interns are legally considered employees of the organization they are employed by, and employers must take reasonable steps to prevent harassment from occurring in the workplace. Unpaid interns might not legally qualify as an employee of the organization, and legal rights differ by state. Employment status might be determined by whether or not the intern received compensation (not limited to monetary compensation). Regardless of employment status, you still have rights.

You are free to consult with a lawyer at any time. UW–Madison does not provide legal assistance or attorneys, but there are legal resources available in the Madison community.

Contact your career services office and/or UW–Madison’s Sexual Misconduct Resource and Response program.

This resource was created by the Internship Committee of the UW–Madison Career Services Council in consultation with the Sexual Misconduct Resource and Response Program.