Administration and Finance

Administration and Operations Manual

3.02 Protection Against Sexual Harassment

Last Revised: 11 May 2006
Refer Questions To: Director, Equal Opportunity Programs


This policy applies to faculty, teachers, staff, and students in all offices and divisions of Gallaudet University.


Sexual harassment is a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended. The University is committed to providing an environment that is free of unlawful sexual harassment and does not condone sexual harassment in any form. Reports of sexual harassment are investigated thoroughly, promptly and objectively.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) guidelines define sexual harassment as follows:

"Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when:

  1. submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual's employment;
  2. submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment decisions affecting that individual; or
  3. such conduct has the purpose or effect of substantially interfering with an individual's work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment."

All levels of management are accountable for the implementation of the Sexual Harassment and Consensual Relationships procedures appended to this policy. Any employee or student who is guilty of or responsible for acts of sexual harassment is subject to appropriate disciplinary action.

Incidents of sexual harassment and sexual misconduct related to Clerc Center students are also governed by the policy entitled Code of Conduct with Clerc Center Students and/or by District of Columbia code.

Approved by: Gallaudet University Administration



    1. Rationale
      1. Sexual harassment is a form, either direct or indirect, of sexual discrimination and will not be tolerated by the University. It subverts the mission of the University and threatens the careers, educational experience, and well-being of students and employees. Relationships involving sexual harassment or discrimination have no place within the University. In both obvious and subtle ways, the very possibility of sexual harassment is destructive to individual students, employees, and to the academic community as a whole. When, through fear or reprisal, a student or employee submits or is pressured to submit to unwanted sexual attention, the University's ability to carry out its mission is undermined.
      2. Sexual harassment is especially serious when it threatens relationships between teacher and student or supervisor and subordinate. In such situations, sexual harassment exploits unfairly the power inherent in a teaching or supervisory position. Through grades, wage increases, recommendations for graduate study, promotion, and the like, a teacher or supervisor can have a decisive influence on a student's or employee's career at the University and beyond.
      3. While sexual harassment most often takes place in situations of power differential between the persons involved, the University also recognizes that sexual harassment may occur between persons of the same University status. The University does not tolerate behavior between or among members of the University community that creates an unacceptable working or educational environment.
    2. Prohibited Acts
      No member of the University community may engage in sexual harassment. For the purpose of this policy, sexual harassment is defined as unwelcome advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when:
      1. submission to such conduct is made explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual's employment or status in a course, program or activity;
      2. submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as a basis for an employment or educational decision affecting that individual; or
      3. such conduct has the purpose or effect of substantially interfering with an individual's work or educational performance or of creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive working or learning environment.
    3. Examples of Sexual Harassment
      1. Direct or implied threats that include all forms of communication (verbal, non-verbal, signed, written, and physical).
      2. Direct or indirect propositions.
      3. Subtle pressure for sexual activity, an element of which may be conduct such as repeated and unwanted staring.
      4. A pattern of conduct (not legitimately related to the subject matter of a course in which one is involved) intended to discomfort or humiliate a reasonable person that includes one or more of the following: (a) comments of a sexual nature; (b) sexually explicit statements, questions, jokes, or anecdotes; (c) unnecessary following, including repeated unwarranted appearances anywhere on campus; (d) remarks of a sexual nature about a person's clothing or body; (e) remarks about sexual activity or speculations about sexual experiences; (f) physical touches of a sexual nature; (g) sexual pictures, calendars, graffiti, or objects; (h) offensive language or gestures.
    4. Isolated and Inadvertent Offenses
      Members of the University community who, without establishing a pattern of doing so, engage in isolated conduct of the kind described in C4 or who exhibit a pattern of engaging in such conduct but fail to realize that their actions discomfort or humiliate, demonstrate an insensitivity that warrants remedial measures. When such activities occur, all members of the campus community have a responsibility, especially within their peer group, to point out the offense
    1. Definition
      The terms faculty and faculty member, as used in this section in the instructional context, mean all those who teach at the University level including staff, graduate students with teaching responsibilities, and other instructional personnel. The term student refers to University students. Any form of relationship with a Clerc Center student, other than a professional relationship or unless a parent, relative, or legal guardian, is prohibited, regardless of the student's age or consent.
    2. Rationale
      1. The University's educational mission is promoted by professionalism in faculty/ student relationships. Professionalism is fostered by an atmosphere of mutual trust and respect, and it is incumbent upon faculty members to foster a spirit of academic and personal integrity at all times. Actions of faculty members and students that harm this atmosphere undermine professionalism and hinder fulfillment of the University's educational mission. Trust and respect are diminished when those in positions of authority abuse or appear to abuse their power. Those who abuse or appear to abuse their power in such a context violate their duty to the University community.
      2. Faculty members exercise power over students, whether in giving them praise or criticism, evaluating them, making recommendations for their further studies or their future employment, or conferring any other benefits on them. Amorous relationships between faculty and students are wrong when the faculty member has professional responsibility for the student. Such situations greatly increase the chances that the faculty member will abuse his/her power and sexually exploit the student. Voluntary consent by the student in such a relationship is suspect, given the fundamentally unequal nature of the relationship. Moreover, other students and faculty may be affected by such unprofessional behavior because it places the faculty member in a position to favor or advance one student's interest at the expense of others and suggests that obtaining benefits may be contingent on amorous or sexual favors. Therefore, the University views it as unethical if faculty members engage in amorous relationships with students who are enrolled in their classes or subject to their supervision, even when both parties appear to have consented to the relationship.
    3. Consensual Relationships in the Instructional Context
      No faculty member may have an amorous relationship (consensual or otherwise) with a student who is enrolled in a course being taught by the faculty member or whose academic work (including work as a teaching assistant) is being supervised by the faculty member.
    4. Consensual Relationships Outside of the Instructional Context
      Amorous relationships between employees and students occurring outside the instructional context may lead to difficulties. When the employee and student are in the same academic unit or in units that are academically allied, relationships that the parties view as consensual may appear to others to be exploitive. Further, in such situations (and others that cannot be anticipated), the employee may face serious conflicts of interest and should be careful to distance himself/herself from any decisions that may reward or penalize the student involved.

      An employee who fails to withdraw from participation in activities or decisions that may reward or penalize a student with whom the employee has or has had an amorous relationship will be deemed to have violated his/her ethical obligation to the student, to other students, to colleagues, and to the University.
    5. Violations
      Alleged violations of Section II may be filed by any person, or the process may be initiated by the appropriate administrative officer.
    1. Informal Complaint
      1. Employees or University students who wish the matter to be handled informally should contact the employee's unit administrator, senior administrator, administrative officer, the Director of Equal Opportunity Programs, or the Director of Human Resources, within 10 calendar days of the incident. A complaint will not be pursued without the authorization of the person making the complaint unless the University is legally obligated to do so, or in its judgment, the allegations are serious enough to warrant further action. University students should also consult with appropriate student support personnel for advice and counseling. Students who have a complaint against another student should contact the Coordinator of Judicial Affairs.
      2. The person to whom the complaint is brought will, within 10 calendar days (unless there are extenuating circumstances) and without directly accusing and without divulging the name of the accuser (unless authorized by the complainant), counsel the employee or student and caution him/her about offensive and inappropriate behaviors and actions or will take other appropriate action to resolve the complaint informally (e.g., remove offensive pictures).
    2. Formal Complaint
      1. An employee or University student who wishes the matter to receive a formal investigation and review must submit a written complaint stating the nature of the alleged harassment, the individual(s) accused and the relief requested. Fairness to all parties involved (accused and the accuser) require that the person bringing the complaint be identified before the initiation of any investigation. Formal complaints should be filed with the Director of Equal Opportunity Programs within 90 calendar days of the alleged incident. Students who wish to make a formal complaint against another student should contact the Coordinator of Judicial Affairs within 90 calendar days.
      2. The Director of Equal Opportunity Programs, in consultation with the appropriate administrative officer, or the Coordinator of Judicial Affairs, will determine the method by which the investigation will be conducted. The purpose of the investigation is to establish whether there is a reasonable basis for believing that an alleged violation of this policy has occurred. In conducting the investigation, the Director of Equal Opportunity Programs and/or the appropriate administrative officer (or his/her designee) or the Coordinator of Judicial Affairs may interview the complainant, the accused, and other persons believed to have pertinent factual knowledge. The right to confidentiality of all parties involved in a sexual harassment complaint shall be adhered to the extent reasonably possible.
      3. Upon receipt of a formal complaint, the Director Equal Opportunity Programs (EOP) will:
        1. provide the complainant (person filing the complaint) with a copy of the guidelines outlined in the Administration and Operations Manual (A & O) and advise the complainant to present in writing, within ten working days of the EOP request, all the facts that bear on the allegation of sexual harassment including specific details of all aspects of the accusations in the complaint, the names of possible witnesses, and the nature and description of possible evidence. The complainant is to forward promptly to EOP, in writing, any supplemental information that subsequently becomes available.
        2. present to the respondent a copy of the complaint along with a copy of the policy outlined in the Administration and Operations Manual. The Director of EOP will request the respondent to present in writing, within ten working day of the EOP request, a written statement in response to the complaint, including the names of possible witnesses and the nature and description of possible evidence to rebut the accusation.
      4. Unless there are extenuating circumstances, the investigation will be concluded and a report written within 60 calendar days.
      5. Possible outcomes of the investigation are: (a) a judgment that the allegations are not warranted; (b) a negotiated settlement of the complaint; or (c) formal disciplinary action.
    3. Protection of Complainant and Others
      1. Formal investigations of complaints will be initiated only with the complainant's consent. The complainant will be informed fully of steps taken during the investigation.
      2. All reasonable action will be taken to assure that the complainant and those testifying on behalf of the complainant or supporting the complainant in other ways will suffer no retaliation as a result of their activities in regard to the process. Steps to avoid retaliation may include:

        (a) lateral transfers of one or more of the parties in an employment setting and a comparable move if a classroom setting is involved; and (b) arrangements that academic and/or employment evaluations concerning the complainant or others be made by an appropriate individual other than the accused.
      3. In extraordinary circumstances, the administrative officer may suspend an employee accused of sexual harassment until the matter is resolved.
    4. Protection of the Accused
      1. At the time a formal complaint is issued, the accused will be informed of the allegations, the identity of the complainant, and the facts surrounding the allegations.
      2. In the event the allegations are not substantiated, all reasonable steps will be taken to restore the reputation of the accused if it was damaged by the proceeding.
      3. A complainant found to have been intentionally dishonest in making the allegations or to have made them maliciously is subject to disciplinary action.
    5. Protecting Both Parties
      1. To the extent possible, formal proceedings will be conducted in a way to protect the confidentiality interests of both parties.
      2. After the investigation, the parties will be informed of the facts developed in the course of the investigation.
      3. The parties will be informed promptly of the outcome of the proceedings.
    6. Process of Taking Formal Disciplinary Action
      1. If, after the investigation, there is a reasonable basis for believing that an alleged violation of this policy has occurred and a negotiated settlement cannot be reached, formal disciplinary action may be taken.
      2. The decision to take formal disciplinary action will be made by the appropriate administrative officer.
    7. Formal Disciplinary Action
      Formal disciplinary action may range from a reprimand to termination of employment.
      1. Violations of this policy and any appeals by University faculty members (not including staff members who teach) will be governed by the University Faculty Guidelines and By-Laws. Upon motion from one of the parties made before the start of the hearing process, the Faculty Grievances Committee will close all or part of any hearing held under this policy. Upon motion from one of the parties after the hearing has started or from some other interested party, the Faculty Grievances Committee may close all or part of a hearing held under this procedure.
      2. Violations of this policy by Clerc Center teachers will be processed by the appropriate administrative officer or his/her designee and may be appealed through the teacher grievance procedure.
      3. Violations of this policy by staff members will be processed by the appropriate administrative officer or his/her designee and may be appealed through the dispute resolution procedure.
      4. Violations of this policy by students will be governed by the student judicial program.
    8. Preparation and Dissemination of Information
      The Director of Equal Opportunity Programs will ensure that this policy is available to all members of the campus community and to all those who join the community in the future. Copies of this policy will be available in appropriate offices and on the University's web site. Additionally, the Director of Equal Opportunity Programs will offer training sessions for the purpose of educating the community about sexual harassment.
    For the purpose of this policy, sexual misconduct includes, but is not necessarily limited to, sexual contact without consent or against the will of the alleged victim including forced viewing, unwanted touching, rape, sodomy and penetration with objects.

    The University's primary concern with respect to any incident of sexual misconduct is the safety and well-being of the victim. Should any incident of sexual misconduct occur, employees and students are encouraged to go to a place where they are in no immediate danger and to seek medical attention if needed. Reports of sexual misconduct should be reported to the Department of Public Safety as soon as possible. The Department of Public Safety will work with the Director of Equal Opportunity Programs and the appropriate administrative officer as described in Section III above in addressing a formal complaint.

    Detailed procedures for University students for reporting sexual misconduct are available from student support offices.

Note: This document is based on the sexual harassment policy of the University of Iowa and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University. It is reprinted here, in whole and in part, with the permission of the University of Iowa Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University.

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