August 22, 2016

Harassment (Student Misconduct)

No student may commit harassment based on a protected characteristic. Harassment is verbal or physical conduct based on a protected characteristic which:

(a) Creates a hostile environment. A “hostile environment” exists when such conduct is sufficiently severe, persistent or pervasive that it unreasonably (i) interferes with, (ii) limits, or (iii) deprives an individual from participating in or benefitting from the university’s education or employment programs, activities, or living environment. In evaluating whether a hostile environment exists, the totality of known circumstances, including the nature, frequency, intensity, location, context, and duration of the conduct, will be considered from both a subjective and objective perspective; or

(b) Submissions to or rejection of the conduct is explicitly or implicitly (i) made a term or condition of an individual’s educational environment, employment, living environment, appointment, admission, or academic evaluation; OR (ii) used as a basis for evaluation in academic evaluations, educational opportunities, admissions evaluations, financial aid, or personnel decisions affecting an individual.

Although repeated incidents generally create a stronger claim of harassment, a serious singular incident can be sufficient. For instance, a single instance of sexual assault or a single disparaging remark about an individual’s ethnicity in an email sent to an entire class may constitute harassment.

Examples of conduct that may constitute harassment:

  • Ridicule, abuse, insults or derogatory comments that are directly or indirectly based on a protected characteristic;
  • Offensive remarks about an individual’s looks, clothing, or body parts, that relate to a protected characteristic;
  • Offensive comments about an individual’s racial, ethnic or religious characteristics;
  • Disparaging or offensive remarks about an individual’s gender whether or not sexual in nature;
  • Disparaging or offensive comments about an individual’s religious beliefs or lack of religious beliefs;
  • Expressing negative stereotypes regarding an individual’s gender, country of birth, ancestry, citizenship, or race;
  • Disparaging, intimidating or offensive references to an individual’s mental or physical impairment or disability;
  • Disparaging racial or ethnic remarks, and racial or ethnic slurs, jokes or epithets;
  • Pursuing, following, waiting or showing up uninvited at or near places frequented by the victim;
  • Unwelcome touching and physical conduct;
  • Inappropriate display of sexually explicit objects, pictures, cartoons, posters, computer screen savers, websites, movies, drawings, or sexual gestures.

Harassment includes “cyber” conduct that occurs through social media platforms, text or email.