What is Sexual Harassment?
Sexual Harassment Is Defined As:
- Unwanted sexual advances, or
- Unwelcome requests for sexual favors, or
- Other behavior of a sexual nature where:
- your acceptance or rejection of this type of conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of your employment or participation in a University-sponsored educational program or activity or
- your acceptance or rejection of this type of conduct is used as the basis for academic or employment decisions affecting you or
- this type of conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with your academic or work performance, or of creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive educational or working environment.
The Following Behaviors Are Some Examples of Sexual Harassment:
- Rude remarks, whistles, leering, or personal reference to one’s anatomy or sexual activity.
- Unwanted physical contact such as touching, patting, pinching, or constant brushing against a person’s body.
- Subtle or overt pressure for sexual favors, including any intimate relationship between a faculty member and a student currently enrolled at Shepherd University.
- Persistent and offensive sexual jokes and comments. Sexual jokes and comments of a personal nature that, objectively, would probably make someone uncomfortable are always inappropriate; however, discussion of sexuality may be appropriate to some academic or student life contexts.
(Note: Actions that distinctly would make a reasonable person feel unwelcome, unwanted, scorned, ridiculed, or intimidated on the basis of his/her gender in the academic setting, work environment, or otherwise within the University community may constitute sex discrimination in general and may violate the law. Such actions should be reported to Dr. Marie DeWalt, director of human resources and affirmative action officer, 304-876-5288, or Karen Green, campus ombudsperson, 304-876-5458.)
Who May Be Involved?
Sexual harassment in the campus community can involve:
- Professor and student
- University employee and student
- Supervisor/superior and employee
- Student and student
- Professor and professor
- Professor and staff
- Contract workers or other campus visitors and employees/students
- Other relationships among colleagues, peers, and coworkers.
Anyone can be sexually harassed. While the majority of sexual harassment victims are women, men may also be sexually harassed. Moreover, students or employees may be harassed by members of their own sex, as well as by members of the opposite sex. Victims range from young to old; from non-traditional senior students to first-year students in their first week of classes; from executives to unskilled workers. Student athletes, resident assistants, student employees, and members of Greek organizations or other student groups might all be victims. Victims may also be of any race, ethnic origin, socio-economic class, or sexual orientation.
What Are Some of the Consequences of Sexual Harassment?
Victims of sexual harassment may experience a wide range of emotions as well as physical and psychological distress. Sexual harassment causes a tense and unproductive learning and working environment, the effects of which can be felt long afterward. Students may feel forced to drop a class, change a major, leave a residence hall or student club, or even withdraw from the University. Employees may feel forced to accept the harassment to avoid formal or informal punishment by a supervisor, or may feel compelled to quit their employment.
The University will appropriately investigate any accusations of sexual harassment by a student or employee. If the University finds that an employee has sexually harassed a student, the employee will be subject to sanctions that are relative to the circumstances of the harassment. Consequences of sexual harassment may include denial of a promotion, termination or forced resignation, negative evaluations or poor recommendations for other work, or demotion. Any student who is charged with sexual harassment will be subject to the established student disciplinary process as outlined in the Student Handbook.
Some students or employees may be concerned that, as a consequence of their accusation, they will experience retaliation from their harasser. Forms of retaliation can include, but are not limited to, the arbitrary assignment of poor grades or poor performance evaluations, making the student or employee feel unwelcome, or otherwise refusing assistance or acting in a disrespectful manner toward the student or employee. The University will strive to prevent retaliation from occurring. If a student or employee perceives that his or her harasser is engaging in retaliation, he or she can address the complaint to any member of the Sexual Harassment Policy and Action Team.
What Can The Shepherd Community Do About Sexual Harassment?
Preventing sexual harassment requires each member of the campus community, especially individuals being harassed, to report all occurrences. Here is what you can do:
- Seek support from the Civility Response Team
- Report incidents
If you believe you are being or have been sexually harassed, you should take any of the following actions:
- Keep records–write a journal on this issue, record the facts on a tape recorder, or tell a friend in confidence. If the harassment persists, keep track of dates, places, times, witnesses, and the nature of the harassment. Save any letters, cards, or notes in a secure place, preferably at home. Bear in mind that documents may be used in litigation.
- If practical, talk directly to your harasser and explain why the action or comment is offensive. Say it firmly, without smiling and without apologizing.
- If direct communication is not possible, tell the harasser in writing that you object to this behavior. Describe the specific things which offend or upset you. Designate this letter as a confidential piece of communication and keep a copy of it.
- If you feel uncomfortable directly communicating with your harasser in any of the methods suggested above, you can contact any member of the Sexual Harassment Policy and Action Team listed in the brochure. They will be willing to discuss with you the circumstances of the harassment and suggest possible resolutions.
- If harassment does not stop after taking these steps, or if initial harassment is so serious as to require immediate action, then a complaint should be initiated. To initiate a complaint, contact Dr. Marie DeWalt, director of human resources and affirmative action officer, 304-876-5288, or Karen Green, campus ombudsperson, 304-876-5458. They are trained to listen and to advise you of the informal and formal resolution processes at Shepherd University. Team members also are trained to reserve judgment and to maintain sensitivity to the issue of sexual harassment. Even if you decide not to engage either in the informal or formal resolution processes, a copy of the complaint will be maintained in the office of the Affirmative Action Officer.
- There are counselors on campus who can assist you if you want to talk about harassment or other problems in confidence. Licensed professional counselors in West Virginia have a binding, legal confidentiality in their conversations with clients. They cannot disclose the content of their conversations with a counseling client unless the client authorizes it. Neither faculty, nor administrators, or even the police, can obtain this information without the client’s consent. (Cases of sexual abuse of a minor are the only exception to this confidentiality policy.) You can contact the Counseling Center at 304-876-5161.
- Anyone who observes harassment by an employee or student should report it to Dr. Marie DeWalt, director of human resources and affirmative action officer, 304-876-5288, or Karen Green, campus ombudsperson, 304-876-5458.
Please see Shepherd University Board of Governor’s Policy 4, Sexual Harassment, for more information (http://www.shepherd.edu/bogweb/policies/policy4.pdf).
Civility Response Team
An additional resource is the Civility Response Team (CRT). The mission of the Civility Response Team is to promote civility and foster a respectful campus community. Students may contact CRT members for support when they feel an issue of incivility directly or indirectly impacts their experiences on campus. The team is comprised of trained faculty and staff who act as informal supports to ensure affected students can access Shepherd University resources when an event occurs. Current team members and their contact information can be found at http://www.shepherd.edu/equity/crt.