VandenBosch: Support available for employees, graduate students and postdocs

This message was sent to all CALS faculty, staff and graduate students on 3/25/20.

Dear colleagues;

I want to congratulate you for finishing the first few days of teaching classes via alternate delivery and the terrific effort that has gone into transitioning research and extension programs to continuity of operations. I appreciate the many hours it took to retool your courses and the tough choices you have had to make in the past several days. With the extra effort needed to address our constantly changing operating environment, as well as the stress associated with ongoing uncertainty, I want to remind you of important mental health resources that are available.

For employees (including postdocs): The Office of Employee Assistance offers 24-hour professional counseling services through LifeMatters via chat, text, or video.

For students: University Health Services continues to provide mental health services, including 24-hour access to SilverCloud online mental health resources and their 24-hour crisis line at 608-265-5600, option 9.

Stress and anxiety are normal during uncertain times and it is important that, although working remotely, we continue to provide social support to one another and to ensure the safety and health of everyone in our community. In particular, we must avoid letting uncertainty and frustration of the current challenges increase the potential for individuals to take advantage of others. Research personnel, including graduate students, should be working remotely and not be working on campus or in other UW facilities unless an authorization of research activity has been issued to the PI by the CALS associate dean for research.  Under no circumstances should personnel be pressured to work in violation of approved plans or in conditions that put them at risk.

I remind you that the university has a policy prohibiting hostile and intimidating behavior. You can report experiencing hostile and intimidating behavior in the following ways:

For employees (including postdocs): File a complaint with your department chair or unit lead.

For graduate students: File a complaint with the faculty director of your graduate program.

More generally, I encourage all of us to practice patience and respectful behavior. COVID-19 disease does not discriminate. Racist behaviors or stereotyping are not tolerated at UW–Madison. If you experience harassment or discrimination, students are encouraged to file a bias incident report. Employees may file a complaint with the Office of Compliance.

Additional changes to policies and procedures may continue to come out this week as all of the offices on campus continue to adjust to new ways of doing business. On Monday, the Chancellor announced the cancellation of in-person events and university-sponsored travel will be extended until May 15, 2020. Please continue to follow for the latest UW-Madison news and eCALS for the latest CALS-specific COVID-19 updates.

Over the last several days I have heard of many acts of generosity and kindness in our community, including laboratories donating personal protective equipment (PPE) for health care needs and students banding together to provide food assistance to fellow students through the Open Seat food pantry. Thank you for all you are doing to keep the Wisconsin Idea alive and well in these challenging times.

Sincerely, Kate