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Forms of Prohibited Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is prohibited. In some cases, sexual harassment is obvious and may involve an overt action, a threat or reprisal. In other instances, sexual harassment is subtle and indirect, with a coercive aspect that is unstated.

Sexual harassment can take many forms:

  • It can occur between equals (e.g., student to student, staff to staff, faculty member to faculty member, visitor/contracted employee to staff) or between persons of unequal power status (e.g. supervisor to subordinate, faculty member to student, coach to student-athlete, student leader to first-year student). Although sexual harassment often occurs in the context of an exploitation of power by the individual with the greater power, a person who appears to have less power in a relationship can also commit sexual harassment (e.g., student harassing faculty member).
  • It can be committed by an individual or may be a result of the collective actions of an organization or group.
  • It can be committed against an individual, an organization or a group.
  • It can be committed by an acquaintance, a stranger, or someone with who the Complainant has a personal, intimate or sexual relationship.
  • It can occur by or against an individual of any sex, gender identity, gender expression or sexual orientation.
  • It does NOT have to include intent to harm, be directed at a specific target, or involve repeated incidents.

Examples of behavior that might be considered misconduct include, but are not limited to:

  • Unwanted or inappropriate sexual innuendo, propositions, sexual attention or suggestive comments and gestures; humor and jokes about sex or gender-specific traits; sexual slurs or derogatory language directed at another person’s sexuality or gender; insults and threats based on sex or gender; and other oral, written or electronic communications of a sexual nature that an individual communicates is unwanted and unwelcome;
  • Written graffiti or the display or distribution of sexually explicit drawings, pictures, or written materials; sexually charged name-calling; sexual rumors or ratings of sexual activity/performance; the circulation, display, or creation of e-mails or Web sites of a sexual nature.
  • Non-academic display or circulation of written materials or pictures degrading to an individual(s) or gender group (It is expected that instructors will offer appropriate warning regarding the introduction of explicit and triggering materials used in the classroom.);
  • Inappropriate or unwelcome physical contact or suggestive body language, such as touching, patting, pinching, hugging, kissing, or brushing against an individual’s body;
  • Undue and unwanted attention, such as repeated inappropriate flirting, inappropriate or repetitive compliments about clothing or physical attributes, staring, or making sexually oriented gestures;
  • Physical coercion or pressure of an individual to engage in sexual activity or punishment for a refusal to respond or comply with sexual advances;
    Change of academic or employment responsibilities (increase in difficulty or decrease of responsibility) based on sex, gender identity/expression, or sexual orientation;
  • Use of a position of power or authority to: (1) threaten or punish, either directly or by implication, for refusing to tolerate harassment, for refusing to submit to sexual activity, or for reporting harassment; or (2) promise rewards in return for sexual favors;
  • Sexual assault;
  • Abusive, disruptive or harassing behavior, verbal or physical, which endangers another's mental or physical health, including but not limited to threats, acts of violence, or assault based on gender and/or in the context of intimate partner violence;
  • Demeaning verbal or other expressive behavior of a sexual or gendered nature in instructional settings; and
  • Acts of verbal, nonverbal, or physical aggression, intimidation, or hostility based on sex or sex-stereotyping. Harassment for exhibiting what is perceived as a stereotypical characteristic for one’s sex, or for failing to conform to stereotypical notions of masculinity and femininity, regardless of actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity of the harasser or target.