Civil Rights Handbook: Prohibited Conduct

Relevant excerpt

Harassment is a form of prohibited discrimination that involves conduct that creates an intimidating, offensive, or hostile working or learning environment, or that interferes with work or academic performance based on a person’s actual or perceived Protected Status. Such conduct constitutes harassment when: … Such conduct is sufficiently serious or persistent as to create an intimidating, hostile, humiliating, demeaning, or sexually offensive working, academic, residential, or social environment under both a subjective and objective standard.


Where non-physical conduct is the nature of the concern (i.e. speech or other expressive activity)

  • Statements or conduct legitimately and reasonably related to the College’s mission of education do not constitute harassment, and unlawful harassment must be distinguished from behavior that, even though unpleasant or disconcerting, is reasonable and appropriate in view of the relevant circumstances.
  • This extends to both academic freedom and freedom of expression (e.g., non-disruptive participation in a protest, speaking as a citizen in an open forum, etc.).


Consistent with the general definition of Harassment set forth above, sexual harassment includes any unwelcome sexual advance, request for sexual favors, or other unwelcome verbal, visual, or physical conduct of a sexual nature that rises to the level of severity or persistence set forth in this section.


Examples of conduct that may constitute sexual harassment as defined above may include a severe, persistent, or pervasive pattern of unwelcome conduct that includes one or more of the following: …

  • Verbal conduct:
    • Making or using derogatory comments, epithets, slurs, or humor
    • Verbal abuse of a sexual nature; graphic verbal commentaries about an individual’s body; sexually degrading words used to describe an individual; suggestive or obscene letters, notes, or invitations
    • Objectively offensive comments of a sexual nature, including persistent or pervasive sexually explicit statements, questions, jokes, or anecdotes
  • Visual conduct:
    • Leering, making sexual gestures, displaying of suggestive objects or pictures, cartoons, or posters in a public space or forum
      • Severe, persistent, or pervasive visual displays of suggestive, erotic, or degrading sexually oriented images that are not pedagogically appropriate
  • Written conduct: letters, notes, or electronic communications containing comments, words, or images described above

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