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SUPERCEDED - General Policy and Procedure

03.004:  Harassment

SUPERCEDED on August 3, 2012

Current Version


Approved on March 27, 2006Signatures and dates
on archival copy


when approved 

Initiated by:

Nicolette Dioguardi
Associate Director of Legal Affairs

Endorsed by:

The Ohio

Kathy Krendl

Approved by:

Roderick J. McDavis

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This policy provides a uniform approach to issues of harassment, including sexual harassment, as a form of discrimination in all areas of employment and educational relationships at Ohio University.


I.  Introduction

Ohio University recognizes the human dignity of each member of the Ohio University community and believes each member has a responsibility to promote respect and dignity for others. The University strives to foster an academic, work and living environment that is free from harassment. The University's goal is to provide an environment where students, faculty, and staff can thrive, and that is welcoming, and free of fear.

Ohio University will make its educational programs and employment opportunities equitably available to students and employees without discrimination on the basis of race, religion, color, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, ancestry, age, gender, gender identity or expression, mental or physical disability, or veteran status. Harassment is a form of discrimination and, therefore, harassment directed toward an individual or group, or experienced by an individual or group, violates this policy.

II.  Policy Application

This policy applies to all aspects of Ohio University's operations and programs, including regional campuses. It applies to all University students and employees, including faculty, administrators, classified non-bargaining staff, bargaining unit staff, and student employees. It also applies to all vendors, contractors, subcontractors, and others who do business with the University. It applies to all visitors or guests on campus to the extent that there is an allegation of harassment made by them against university students or employees. This policy does not apply to individuals who are accused of harassment who are not students, employees, affiliates, or agents of Ohio University. Where this policy contradicts the Faculty Handbook, part II, section R, "Policy on Sexual Harassment," this policy takes precedence.

Violence and sexual assaults committed against or by an Ohio University student, employee, or agent may be pursued through this policy, through the public criminal justice system, or, depending on the facts and the individuals involved, through University Judiciaries or Policy and Procedure 41.135, "Workplace Violence." An initial choice to use one of these avenues does not preclude a later or simultaneous decision to use one or more of the others.

III.  Harassment - Definition

Harassment is defined as any conduct directed toward an individual or group based on one or more of the categories listed in the second paragraph of subsection I, above, and severe enough so as to deny or limit a person's ability to participate in or fully benefit from the University's educational and employment environments, or activities, or severe enough that it creates an intimidating, offensive, or hostile environment.

IV.  Sexual Harassment - Definition

Because sexual harassment has been more thoroughly defined in the law than harassment based on a protected trait, the following definition of sexual harassment is included in this policy. The following two terms are defined first because they are used in the definition of sexual harassment:

  • Quid Pro Quo  is the Latin term for "this for that" and occurs when there is a demand for a sexual favor in exchange for employment or academic benefit.

  • Hostile Environment  exists when harassing behavior unreasonably interferes with a student's academic or employee's work performance and creates a hostile, intimidating, or offensive academic or work environment.

Sexual Harassment at Ohio University is defined as any unwelcome sexual advance or request for sexual favor, including an explicit or implicit quid pro quo, made by an employee, student, or agent of the University to a student or employee of the University, and is conduct of a sexual nature exhibited by such a person (or people) toward another when such conduct substantially interferes with the person's educational or work performance, or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive educational or work environment.

V.  Examples of Sexual Harassment in any Setting

  • Unwelcome or uninvited sexual comments or innuendo

  • Oral, written, or electronic communications that are sexually explicit in nature

  • Sexually explicit questions, jokes, or anecdotes about gender specific traits

  • Sexually suggestive sounds, gestures, gifts, or visual materials such as magazines, pictures, posters, photos, cartoons, or drawings

  • Direct or indirect threats concerning sexual favors or the refusal to consent to sexual favors

  • Sexual leering, uninvited touching, stroking, or gestures

  • Communication of unsought sexual propositions, requests for dates, sexual favors, or lewd remarks or sounds

  • Coerced sexual intercourse

  • Sexual assault or abuse

VI.  Sexual Harassment in the Classroom or Instructional Setting

A.  Discussion

The classroom or other instructional setting (e.g. studio, laboratory) presents special issues because academic freedom protects the expression of ideas, even where the idea or its expression is perceived to be offensive. Accordingly, if the conduct that was the basis for the complaint occurred in an instructional context, its investigation will be subject to very strict scrutiny.

Effective pedagogy (in the classroom, small-group, or one-on-one setting) will at times require behavior on the part of the instructor or students that might otherwise be unacceptable. For example, dance, medical, or athletics instruction may require physical contact between students or between the student and the instructor; an art or writing instructor should discuss both the evident and the underlying topics of the student's creative work, even if those topics include the student's search for understanding of his or her own sexuality; etc. The investigation will consider the legitimate pedagogical context, and will take into account discipline-specific guidelines for professional practice.

Ohio University forbids amorous relationships between a student and anyone having grading, advisory, or supervisory authority over that student (including faculty, other instructors, teaching assistants, and supervisors). Amorous relationships that occur in the context of educational or employment supervision and evaluation present serious concerns about the validity of consent. The disparity of power between persons involved in amorous relationships of a teacher and student, supervisor and subordinate, or senior and junior colleagues in the same department or unit makes them susceptible to exploitation. Furthermore, the possibility of a future amorous relationship may distort the present instructional or advisory relationship. Those who abuse their power in such a context violate their duty to the University community.

Relationships between faculty and students are particularly susceptible to exploitation. The respect and trust accorded a member of the faculty by a student, as well as the power exercised by faculty in giving grades or recommendations for future study and employment, make voluntary consent by the student suspect.

B.  Examples

  • Pattern of conduct that is not legitimately related to the subject matter of the course and causes discomfort or embarrassment for the student to the degree that it interferes with learning. Such conduct may include

    • unwelcome, uninvited comments of a sexual nature, including jokes or anecdotes;

    • touching, patting, hugging, brushing up against a person's body; and

    • repeated, unwanted sexually oriented stares (maintaining eye contact is, of course, acceptable).

  • Remarks, jokes, comments, questions about sexual acts, experiences, or orientation in the classroom when such discussion is not reasonably and legitimately related to the subject matter of the course.

  • Display of inappropriate sexually oriented material, such as magazines, photographs or other visual items when such material is visible to others and unreasonably interferes with a person's learning, and is not legitimately related to the subject matter of the course.

VII.  Sexual Harassment in the Student Employment Setting

Student employment, at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, is intended to assist students in covering the cost of their education while engaging in work that will contribute to their training and development. These activities may include supervisory responsibilities. All student employees are subject to this policy.

VIII.  Factors That Are Considered in Evaluating Sexual and Other Harassment

  • Degree to which a person or group is affected.

  • Type, frequency, and duration of alleged conduct.

  • Relationship between alleged harasser and subject of the alleged harassment.

  • Location and context in which the alleged conduct occurs.

  • Other or corroborating incidents.

IX.  Duty to Report

Federal and state law and regulations place certain requirements on the University regarding the reporting of sexual harassment. Any member of the University community who receives a complaint of sexual harassment from a student or other member of the University community is directed and required to report the behavior to the Office for Institutional Equity, unless a member of the staff of that office is involved, in which case the report shall be directed to the Office of Legal Affairs.

Any member of the University Community who has a question about his or her responsibilities under this policy should call the Office for Institutional Equity or the Office of Legal Affairs.

X.  Cooperation with Investigation

The complainant has the burden of proof to show harassment. It is an expectation that he or she will actively provide information that will support his or her complaint in the time and manner deemed necessary and appropriate by the University to conduct the investigation. Failure to cooperate with the investigation process in a timely manner may negate the University's obligation to continue with the investigation.

XI.  Confidentiality and Privacy

The Office for Institutional Equity, the Office of Legal Affairs, or University Human Resources, when conducting a sexual harassment or, in some cases, other harassment investigations are designated by the Ohio University Board of Trustees with quasi-criminal investigative authority. During the investigation of an applicable complaint, the records generated will be argued to be exempt from disclosure as an exception to the public records law. Once the investigation is complete, the records are open pursuant to Ohio Revised Code 149.43 (A)(1)(h).

Student names are protected at all times from public disclosure, pursuant to the Family Education Rights to Privacy Act (FERPA), unless waived by the student, or unless another FERPA exception applies. However, names may be released to university employees or agents who need to know the names for the purpose of conducting an investigation.

Medical information, if any, will be protected pursuant to the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act whenever appropriate.

XII.  Anonymous Complaints

Anonymous complaints will be accepted; however, Ohio University may be limited in its options in investigating or resolving anonymous complaints because of the unique challenges they present. There is no way to assess the author's veracity and no ability to obtain additional information from the complainant if the complaint is unclear or confusing. However, the Office for Institutional Equity will keep records of all complaints, including anonymous complaints, and:

  1. If the anonymous complaint contains sufficiently detailed information about conduct that, if true, would constitute a crime, then the complaint will be forwarded to Ohio University Police for appropriate action.

  2. If the anonymous complaint contains sufficiently detailed information about conduct that, if true, would constitute a violation of this policy, the complaint will be investigated to the best of the Office's ability given the anonymous nature of the complaint.

For more detailed information on how a harassment complaint or report will be investigated or resolved, contact the Office for Institutional Equity.

XIII.  Filing a False Complaint

Knowingly filing a false harassment complaint is prohibited and shall be a violation of this policy and shall constitute misconduct subject to disciplinary action.

XIV.  Retaliation

Retaliation against one, who in good faith, brings a complaint alleging a violation of this policy, or who in good faith participates in the investigation of a complaint pursuant to this policy, is prohibited. Substantiated retaliation shall constitute misconduct subject to disciplinary action; see also Policy and Procedure 03.006, "Whistle-blowing and Retaliation."

XV.  Sanctions

An individual or group of individuals found to have violated this policy will be subject to disciplinary or remedial action, up to and including, termination of employment or expulsion from the University.

XVI.  Employee Indemnification

At any time, should Ohio University be named a defendant in a law suit alleging sexual harassment, the entire record of any complaints and investigation shall be held and managed by the Office of Legal Affairs. Ohio University may request that it be released from indemnifying or defending any faculty, staff, or student who is named as a defendant in a sexual harassment lawsuit.

Ohio University will indemnify and defend any employee who is named as a defendant in a lawsuit based on his or her action of reporting a complaint under subsection IX, above, unless the Office for Institutional Equity and the Office of Legal Affairs have found that the employee knowingly filed a false complaint.

XVII.  Time Limits

A complaint of harassment, including sexual harassment, must be filed no later than 180 days, from the date of the last occurrence of the alleged harassing behavior.

Policy and Procedures

I.  Filing a Report

The Office for Institutional Equity serves as the recipient for any complaint or report of harassment (by any of the approaches itemized below), with the exception specified in subsection IX of the Plan section, above. Any complaints or reports submitted to the Office of Legal Affairs, to University Human Resources, or to any other university office must be forwarded promptly to the Office for Institutional Equity (also with the exception specified in subsection IX of the Plan section, above, in which case the Office of Legal Affairs will inform the Office of Institutional Equity at an appropriate later time).

Walk In:  Office for Institutional Equity
                  101 Crewson House (on South Court Street)
                  Athens, Ohio

Mail:        Office for Institutional Equity
                  101 Crewson House
                  Ohio University
                  Athens, Ohio 45701

Phone:      740-593-2620

FAX:        740-593-0790

E-mail:      equity@ohio.edu

II.  Additional Resources

Any person involved in the process under this policy needing accommodations for a disability should notify the Office for Institutional Equity.

Complainants are also advised that they have the right to file with an outside agency such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (for applicants, employees of the University, and visitors), the Office of Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Education (for students), or with the Ohio Civil Rights Commission.

Questions about this policy may also be directed to the Office of Legal Affairs.

III.  Training

The Office of Legal Affairs, The Office for Institutional Equity, and University Human Resources shall be responsible for providing training and orientation for all employees or other persons who are subject to this policy.

IV.  Public Visibility of this Policy

In addition to being online as part of the Policy and Procedure Manual, which is linked from the primary audience home page for employees, http://www.ohiou.edu/employees/, this policy shall be brought to the attention of all current and future employees and students at Ohio University by being linked to from at least the following locations:

The online address for this policy will be included as part of the discussion of sexual harassment in print editions of both the Undergraduate Catalog and the Graduate Catalog, and the online address will be linked in the online editions of both catalogs.

The online address for this policy will also be included on the printed copy of this policy that will be provided to all new employees.

Any employee who wants a printed copy of this policy should contact University Human Resources.


Proposed revisions of this policy should be reviewed by:

  1. President

  2. Provost

  3. Cabinet

  4. Director of Legal Affairs

  5. Executive Assistant to the President for Institutional Equity

  6. Assistant Vice President for Finance and Administration for Human Resources

  7. Director of Judiciaries

  8. University Ombuds

  9. Faculty Senate

  10. Administrative Senate

  11. Classified Senate

  12. Bargaining Units

  13. Policy and Procedure Review Committee


There are no forms that are specific to this policy.

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Dick Piccard revised this file (http://www.ohio.edu/policy/s03-004.html) on August 8, 2012.
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