Harassment is unwelcome, offensive conduct that occurs on the basis of a Protected Characteristic. It is a form of discrimination and violates this Policy. Conduct that violates this Policy is not necessarily a violation of the law.
While it is not possible to identify every form of conduct that can constitute harassment, harassing conduct can occur in various forms, including:
• Verbal Harassment, including unwelcome sexually suggestive, demeaning or graphic comments; using ethnic, racial, religious or other slurs to refer to a person; jokes or comments that demean a person, in each case on the basis of a Protected Characteristic;
• Physical Harassment, including unwanted sexual contact; sexual intimidation through physical threats; physical threats toward or intimidation of another person, in each case on the basis of a Protected Characteristic;
• Visual Harassment, including exposing another person to unwanted pornographic images; creating or displaying racially, ethnically or religiously offensive pictures, symbols, cartoons or graffiti; and
• Communication-Based Harassment, including phone calls, emails, text messages, chats or blogs that offend, demean or intimidate another person, in each case on the basis of a Protected Characteristic.
A hostile environment is created when the offensive behavior reaches a level of severity or pervasiveness that it interferes with a reasonable person’s ability to participate in the University’s programs (i.e., to work and to learn).
A determination as to whether harassment occurred depends on the totality of the circumstances, including the context of a communication or incident, the relationship of the individuals involved in the communication or incident, whether an incident was an isolated incident or part of a broader pattern or course of offensive conduct, the seriousness or severity of the incident, the intent of the individual who engaged in the allegedly offensive conduct, and its effect or impact on the individual and the learning community. The fact that a person was personally offended by a statement or incident does not alone constitute a violation of this Policy.