Sexual Misconduct Policy: Definitions of Prohibited Conduct

Relevant excerpt

Sexual harassment is any unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature, including unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and/or other verbal, nonverbal, or physical conduct of a sexual nature. Sexual harassment occurs when any of the following conditions are present: …  Such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work or academic performance, i.e. it is sufficiently serious, pervasive or persistent as to create an intimidating, hostile, humiliating, demeaning, or sexually offensive working, academic, residential, or social environment under both the subjective perspective of the person who experiences such conduct and objective standard of a reasonable person’s perception of such conduct.
A single isolated incident of sexual harassment may create a hostile environment if the incident is sufficiently severe. The more severe the conduct, the less need there is to show a repetitive series of incidents to establish the existence of a hostile environment, particularly if the harassment is physical. Conduct which is pervasive or persistent, even if not severe, may also create a hostile environment.

Gender-based harassment may include acts of verbal, nonverbal, or physical aggression, intimidation, or hostility based on gender, sex or gender and/or sex or gender stereotyping, even if those acts do not involve conduct of a sexual nature.

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

Physical conduct:

  • Unwelcome touching, sexual/physical assault, impeding, restraining, or blocking movements
  • Unwanted sexual advances

Verbal conduct:

  • Making or using derogatory comments, epithets, slurs or humor
  • Intentionally using incorrect pronouns or an incorrect name when a person has clearly stated their preferred name and pronouns.
  • 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 or demeaning objects or pictures, cartoon or posters in a public space or forum
  • Severe, persistent, or pervasive visual displays of suggestive, erotic, or degrading images. This example should not be understood to constrain academic freedom in teaching, research, or creative activity, or to limit intellectual and or expressive rights.
  • Letters, notes or electronic communications containing comments, words, or images described above

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