Harassment is defined as any unwelcome verbal, nonverbal, written, electronic, or physical conduct. Harassment comes in many forms and can be based on various protected categories. No definition can be all encompassing. Harassment based on race, religious creed, color, national origin, ancestry, physical disability, mental disability, medical condition, marital status, sex, age, or sexual orientation of any person, or the perception that a person has one or more of these characteristics violates this Policy. Any hostile or offensive conduct based on protected status can constitute prohibited harassment. For example, the behavior is so severe, persistent or pervasive that it has the effect of substantially interfering with the individual’s work or educational performance by creating an intimidating, hostile, or demeaning environment for employment, education, on-campus living, or participation in a University activity.
Prohibited forms of harassment under this policy include, but are not limited to:
1. Verbal Harassment. Inappropriate or offensive remarks, slurs, jokes or innuendoes based on a person’s race, gender, sexual orientation, or other protected status. This may include, but is not limited to, inappropriate comments regarding an individual’s body, physical appearance, attire, marital status or sexual orientation; unwelcome comments; verbal abuse, threats or intimidation; or patronizing or ridiculing statements that convey derogatory attitudes based on a protected status.
2. Physical Harassment. Inappropriate or offensive touching, assault, or physical interference with free movement. It also includes any physical assault or intimidation directed at an individual due to that person’s protected status.
3. Visual or Written Harassment. The display or circulation of visual or written material that degrades an individual or group based on protected status. this may include, but is not limited to, posters, cartoons, drawings, graffiti, reading materials, computer graphics or electronic media transmissions.
4. Environmental Harassment. A hostile academic or work environment exists where it is permeated by innuendo; insults or abusive comments directed at an individual or group based protected status; or gratuitous comments regarding an individual or group based protected status that are not relevant to the subject matter in the classroom or work environment. It can also be created by an unwarranted focus on, or stereotyping of, particular racial or ethnic groups, sexual orientations, genders or other protected statuses. An environment may also be hostile toward anyone who merely witnesses prohibited harassment in his or her immediate surroundings, although the conduct is directed at others. The determination of whether an environment is hostile is based on the totality of the circumstances, including such factors as the frequency of the conduct, the severity of the conduct, whether the conduct is humiliating or physically threatening, and whether the conduct unreasonably interferes with an individual’s learning or work.