MIT Policies & Procedures: 9.4 Policy on Harassment

Category: Harassment Policies School: Massachusetts Institute of Technology Statement Rating: Yellow Last updated: May 2, 2018

Relevant excerpt

Harassment is defined as unwelcome conduct of a verbal, nonverbal or physical nature that is sufficiently severe or pervasive to create a work or academic environment that a reasonable person would consider intimidating, hostile or abusive and that adversely affects an individual’s educational, work, or living environment.

In determining whether unwelcome conduct is harassing, the Institute will examine the totality of the circumstances surrounding the conduct, including its frequency, nature and severity, the relationship between the parties and the context in which the conduct occurred. Below is a partial list of examples of conduct that would likely be considered harassing, followed by a partial list of examples that would likely not constitute harassment:

  • Examples of possibly harassing conduct: … the use of certain racial epithets;

Sexual harassment is unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature, such as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal, nonverbal, or physical conduct of a sexual nature, when:

  • The conduct is sufficiently severe or pervasive that a reasonable person would consider it intimidating, hostile or abusive and it adversely affects an individual’s educational, work, or living environment.

A partial list of examples of conduct that might be deemed to constitute sexual harassment if sufficiently severe or pervasive include:

Examples of verbal sexual harassment may include unwelcome conduct such as sexual flirtation, advances or propositions or requests for sexual activity or dates; asking about someone else’s sexual activities, fantasies, preferences, or history; discussing one’s own sexual activities, fantasies, preferences, or history; verbal abuse of a sexual nature; suggestive comments; sexually explicit jokes; turning discussions at work or in the academic environment to sexual topics; and making offensive sounds such as “wolf whistles.”

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