Student Dignity and Harassment Policy

Statement of Principles 

The University expects all students and employees to conduct themselves with dignity and respect for students, employees, and others.  It is each individual’s responsibility to behave in a civil manner and to make responsible choices about the manner in which they conduct themselves.  Harassment of any kind is not acceptable at the University.  The University does not condone or allow harassment of others, whether engaged in by students, employees, supervisors or administrators, or by vendors or others doing business with the University.  Harassment is the creation of a hostile or intimidating environment in which verbal or physical conduct, because of its severity or persistence, is likely to significantly interfere with an individual’s work or education, or adversely affect a person’s living conditions.

To assist with the understanding of what harassment is, this Code of Community Standards contains specific definitions of two of the more prevalent types of harassment — racial harassment and sexual harassment.

Definition of Racial Harassment

Racial harassment includes any conduct, physical or verbal, that victimizes or stigmatizes an individual on the basis of race, ethnicity, ancestry, or national origin. Such behavior could involve any of the following:

  • The use of physical force or violence to restrict the freedom of action or movement of another person or to endanger the health or safety of another person;
  • Physical or verbal conduct, intentional or otherwise, that has the purpose or effect of (or explicitly or implicitly threatens) interference with an individual’s personal safety, academic efforts, employment, or participation in University sponsored activities; or
  • The conduct has the effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work or academic performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working, learning or living environment.

Definition of Sexual Harassment  

Based on the definition contained in the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission guidelines, adapted to include educational environments, sexual harassment is defined as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when:

  • Submission to such conduct is made, either explicitly or implicitly, a term or condition of an individual’s employment or academic advancement;
  • Submission to, or rejection of, such conduct by an individual is used as a factor in employment or academic decisions affecting such individuals; or
  • Such conduct has the purpose or effect of substantially interfering with an individual’s work or academic performance or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive working, living or academic environment.

While sexual harassment most often takes place in situations of power differential between the persons involved, sexual harassment may also occur between persons of the same status (e.g., student-to-student).  The person exhibiting sexually harassing conduct need not realize or intend the conduct to be offensive for the conduct to constitute sexual harassment.

Other Types of Harassment

The attributes of racial harassment described above are also the attributes of most other types of harassment.  Harassment may be based upon a person’s status that is protected by law (e.g., religion, veteran status, handicap, etc.) or may be based on some other reason not specifically covered by law.  In any event, harassment of any type is not acceptable at the University.

Harassment Concerns

Any person who believes that he/she has been subjected to harassment of any kind (sexual, racial, or otherwise) should approach the individual whom he/she believes responsible.  He/she should identify the specific behavior, explain that he/she considers the behavior to be offensive and/or harassing, and ask the individual to stop the behavior.  If assistance is needed to approach the individual, an Academic Dean, the Dean of Student Life, the Director of Multicultural Student Services, or the Equal Opportunity Director should be contacted.

If approaching the individual is not possible (e.g., the person who believes that he/she has been subjected to harassment is uncomfortable or uncertain as to how the situation should be handled or is concerned that the situation may become volatile) or if approaching the individual does not resolve the matter, it should then be reported immediately to an Academic Dean, the Director of Multicultural Student Services, the Director of Student Conduct, or the Equal Opportunity Director. If, for some reason, the person who believes that he/she has been subjected to harassment is uncomfortable discussing the situation with any of these individuals, the situation should be reported to any member of the University Administration.  The circumstances surrounding the matter will be fully investigated, including the nature of the harassment and the context in which it occurred.

All reports of harassment and subsequent investigations will be kept as confidential as possible.  Anyone found to have violated this policy will be subject to discipline up to and including suspension or dismissal.  Discipline may include, but is not limited to, official reprimand, official apology, sensitivity training, and/or other disciplinary action including dismissal.  Likewise, because intentionally false accusations of harassment can have serious effects on innocent people, anyone found to have intentionally falsely accused another person of violating this policy will be subject to discipline, up to and including suspension or dismissal.