Student Sexual Harassment and Misconduct Policy

Category: Harassment Policies School: Massachusetts Institute of Technology Statement Rating: Yellow Last updated: June 28, 2017

Relevant excerpt

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

  • submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a condition of an individual’s employment or academic standing; or
  • submission to, or rejection of, such conduct is used as the basis for employment decisions (such as advancement, performance evaluation, or work schedule) or academic decisions (such as grading or letters of recommendation); or
  • such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s working conditions, academic experience, or living conditions, or of creating a hostile working, academic, or living environment.

Even one instance of sexual harassment, if severe enough, may create a hostile environment. A non-exhaustive set of examples of conduct that might constitute sexual harassment are included below.  One or more of these actions will be considered sexual harassment only when that conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with another individual’s working conditions, academic experience, or living conditions, or of creating a hostile working, academic, or living environment.

Examples of verbal sexual harassment may include unwelcome conduct such as unwelcome 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 smacking or licking lips, kissing sounds, or “wolf whistles.”

Examples of nonverbal sexual harassment include unwelcome conduct such as displaying sexual objects, pictures or other images; invading a person’s personal body space, such as standing closer than appropriate or necessary or hovering; displaying or wearing objects or items of clothing which express sexually offensive comments; making sexual gestures with hands or body movements; looking at a person in a sexually suggestive or intimidating manner; or delivering unwanted letters, gifts, or other items of a sexual nature. In addition, nonconsensual sexual contact, sexual exploitation, and nonconsensual sexual penetration may constitute nonverbal instances of sexual harassment.

Sexual harassment does not include material or discussion that is appropriately related to course subject matter or curriculum, and this policy shall not abridge academic freedom or the Institute’s educational mission.

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