Recognizing that harassment, including on the basis of race, sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity, constitutes unacceptable behavior, the University, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, and the Faculty Council have issued a number of documents setting forth the position of the College on these matters, as well as the procedures that are available to students who believe that they have been the object of such harassment.
It is important to note here that speech not specifically directed against individuals in a harassing way may be protected by traditional safeguards of free speech, even though the comments may cause considerable discomfort or concern to others in the community. The College still takes such incidents seriously and will try, when appropriate, to mediate and help students involved to resolve the situations in an informal way. On the other hand, any use of electronic mail or the telephone to deliver obscene or harassing messages will be treated as a serious matter and ordinarily will result in disciplinary action by the College (see also Electronic Communication and Obscene or Harassing Telephone Calls).
The College encourages undergraduates who believe that they have been the object of harassment to seek information and advice concerning applicable harassment policies, informal resolution and formal complaints, and counseling and other services.
In cases of racial harassment, students may always seek the assistance of their Allston Burr Assistant Dean or Resident Dean of Freshmen, Faculty Dean, or Racial Harassment Hearing Officer in the Office of the Dean of Harvard College.
In cases of sexual or gender-based harassment, undergraduate students are encouraged to contact either a Title IX Coordinator within FAS or a member of the Office for Sexual and Gender-Based Dispute Resolution (“ODR”). Although different Title IX Coordinators have different areas of particular expertise (College, GSAS, DCE, Faculty, Staff), any Title IX Coordinator can provide basic advice or contact other FAS or University officers for assistance, as appropriate. Students may also seek the assistance of their Allston Burr Assistant Dean or Resident Dean of Freshmen, Faculty Dean, House- or Yard- designated tutors/proctors for sexual harassment, the BGLTQ tutors/proctors, or the Sexual Harassment Hearing Officer in the Office of the Dean of Harvard College.
All these FAS officers will treat information they have received with appropriate sensitivity, but they may, in certain circumstances, need to share certain information with those at the University responsible for stopping or preventing harassment. Persons wishing to have confidential conversations that will not be reported to others may, as applicable, contact the Office of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (OSAPR), the Bureau of Study Counsel, Counseling and Mental Health Services, or Harvard Chaplains. OSAPR also maintains an online guide to the confidentiality level of various support resources.
Faculty Policy Statement on Racial Harassment
The Faculty policy statement on racial harassment is set forth below:
Harvard College seeks to maintain an instructional and work environment free from racial harassment. The College defines racial harassment as actions on the part of an individual or group that demean or abuse another individual or group because of racial or ethnic background. Such actions may include, but are not restricted to, using racial epithets, making racially derogatory remarks, and using racial stereotypes. Any member of the College community who believes that he or she has been harassed on account of race is encouraged to bring the matter to the attention of his or her Allston Burr Assistant Dean or Resident Dean of Freshmen or the designated race relations adviser in their House or Freshman Yard.
The College’s investigation and adjudication process is designed to be careful and fair. No person will be reprimanded or discriminated against in any way for initiating an inquiry or complaint in good faith. The rights of any person against whom a complaint is lodged will be protected during the investigation.
Procedures for Informal and Formal Resolution of Allegations of Racial Harassment
The College’s investigation and adjudication processes are designed to be careful and fair. No person will be reprimanded or retaliated against in any way for raising an allegation of harassment, for cooperating in an investigation of such a complaint, or for opposing discriminatory practices. The rights of any person against whom a complaint is lodged will be protected during an investigation.
A student may consult any adviser or administrator as described above in order to obtain help in clarifying and resolving a situation of perceived racial harassment. Throughout the advising process, information will be treated with appropriate sensitivity and in many circumstances will be kept private by the adviser.
Some reported incidents of harassment involve stereotyping or insensitive or offensive behavior that is the result of miscommunication or lack of communication rather than malicious intent. Calling the matter to the attention of the person or group engaged in such behavior is often enough to bring a stop to it. A person seeking resolution with the help of an adviser may ask the adviser to intervene in order to make the offender aware of his or her behavior. This intervention may result in an apology to the offended person, changes in behavior, and closure of the incident, thus providing the desired resolution. Where an instructional relationship exists between the parties, changing that relationship may also be helpful. On the other hand, if the offensive behavior continues, intervention may be only the beginning of a longer, more complex process of resolution and remedy.
Throughout the process of informal resolution there will be regular communication between the adviser and the person making the inquiry. In addition, the offended person will receive support for handling the emotional or other effects of the incident or inquiry. The College strongly encourages those with questions or concerns to bring them to the attention of an appropriate adviser.
When a formal complaint of racial harassment is made against a student, the matter is referred directly to the Administrative Board of Harvard College, the Student-Faculty Judicial Board or the disciplinary body of the graduate or professional school as appropriate. When a formal complaint of racial harassment is made against a faculty or staff member, it is handled according to the process described below.
In such a situation, the designated Racial Harassment Hearing Officer can provide advice and assistance to the complainant, both in presenting the case and, where appropriate, by referring him or her to other helpful sources of advice and counsel.
Individuals who wish to file a complaint should contact the Racial Harassment Hearing Officer in the Office of the Dean of Harvard College or their Resident Dean of Freshmen or Allston Burr Assistant Dean. Merely discussing a complaint with one of the officers does not commit one to making a formal charge. However, the matter may be pursued by one of the officers of the Faculty if the behavior is determined to be a community matter.
Formal procedures are initiated by filing a written and signed complaint that may be shown to the accused person. The Hearing Officer will consult with the complainant and with the person named in the complaint in order to ascertain the facts and views of both parties. The Hearing Officer or the Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences may at any point dismiss a complaint if it is found to be without merit. If such an action is taken, the complainant and the accused will be informed of this decision. If, however, the evidence appears to support the complaint, the Hearing Officer will conduct an inquiry and prepare a report for submission to the Dean, summarizing the relevant evidence. A draft of the report will be shown to the complainant, to the respondent, and to the Dean, in order to give them the opportunity to respond before the final report is made. The final report summarizing the findings will be sent to the complainant, the respondent, and the Dean. Both the complainant and the respondent will have the opportunity to comment on the report in a written statement to the Dean.
Upon consideration of the final report, the Dean of the Faculty may take whatever action is warranted or ask the investigative officer to discuss the matter further and to submit a supplementary report. Final action by the Dean completes the procedure in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
The Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) is committed to fostering an open and supportive community that promotes learning, teaching, research, and discovery. This commitment includes maintaining a safe and healthy educational and work environment in which no member of the community is excluded from participation in, denied the benefits of, or subjected to discrimination in any University program or activity on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity. Because sexual and gender-based harassment – including, but not limited to, sexual violence – interfere with an individual’s ability to participate fully in or benefit fully from University programs or activities, they constitute unacceptable forms of discrimination.
The University Policy applies to all Harvard students, faculty, staff, Harvard appointees, and third parties. The University Procedures govern allegations of sexual and gender-based harassment involving Harvard students, including undergraduate students in the College.
The FAS Policy adopts the University Policy and incorporates the University Procedures, including for purposes of student discipline. The University Policy is reproduced in its entirety here. Please see the entire Sexual and Gender-Based Harassment Policy for the Faculty of Arts and Sciences to view additional sections of the Policy not reproduced here that refer to additional conduct prohibited by the FAS.
Harvard University is committed to maintaining a safe and healthy educational and work environment in which no member of the University community is, on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity, excluded from participation in, denied the benefits of, or subjected to discrimination in any University program or activity. Gender-based and sexual harassment, including sexual violence, are forms of sex discrimination in that they deny or limit an individual’s ability to participate in or benefit from University programs or activities.
This Policy is designed to ensure a safe and non-discriminatory educational and work environment and to meet legal requirements, including: Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in the University’s programs or activities; relevant sections of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act; Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in employment; and Massachusetts laws that prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity. It does not preclude application or enforcement of other University or School policies.
It is the policy of the University to provide educational, preventative and training programs regarding sexual or gender-based harassment; to encourage reporting of incidents; to prevent incidents of sexual and gender-based harassment from denying or limiting an individual’s ability to participate in or benefit from the University’s programs; to make available timely services for those who have been affected by discrimination; and to provide prompt and equitable methods of investigation and resolution to stop discrimination, remedy any harm, and prevent its recurrence. Violations of this Policy may result in the imposition of sanctions up to, and including, termination, dismissal, or expulsion, as determined by the appropriate officials at the School or unit.
Retaliation against an individual for raising an allegation of sexual or gender-based harassment, for cooperating in an investigation of such a complaint, or for opposing discriminatory practices is prohibited. Submitting a complaint that is not in good faith or providing false or misleading information in any investigation of complaints is also prohibited.
Nothing in this Policy shall be construed to abridge academic freedom and inquiry, principles of free speech, or the University’s educational mission.
Sexual harassment is unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature, including unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal, nonverbal, graphic, or physical conduct of a sexual nature, when: (1) submission to or rejection of such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a condition of an individual’s employment or academic standing or is used as the basis for employment decisions or for academic evaluation, grades, or advancement (quid pro quo); or (2) such conduct is sufficiently severe, persistent, or pervasive that it interferes with or limits a person’s ability to participate in or benefit from the University’s education or work programs or activities (hostile environment).
Quid pro quo sexual harassment can occur whether a person resists and suffers the threatened harm, or the person submits and avoids the threatened harm. Both situations could constitute discrimination on the basis of sex.
A hostile environment can be created by persistent or pervasive conduct or by a single severe episode. The more severe the conduct, the less need there is to show a repetitive series of incidents to prove a hostile environment. Sexual violence, including rape, sexual assault, and domestic and dating violence, is a form of sexual harassment. In addition, the following conduct may violate this Policy:
Other verbal, nonverbal, graphic, or physical conduct may create a hostile environment if the conduct is sufficiently persistent, pervasive, or severe so as to deny a person equal access to the University’s programs or activities. Whether the conduct creates a hostile environment may depend on a variety of factors, including: the degree to which the conduct affected one or more person’s education or employment; the type, frequency, and duration of the conduct; the relationship between the parties; the number of people involved; and the context in which the conduct occurred.
Conduct is unwelcome if a person (1) did not request or invite it and (2) regarded the unrequested or uninvited conduct as undesirable or offensive. That a person welcomes some sexual contact does not necessarily mean that person welcomes other sexual contact. Similarly, that a person willingly participates in conduct on one occasion does not necessarily mean that the same conduct is welcome on a subsequent occasion.
Whether conduct is unwelcome is determined based on the totality of the circumstances, including various objective and subjective factors. The following types of information may be helpful in making that determination: statements by any witnesses to the alleged incident; information about the relative credibility of the parties and witnesses; the detail and consistency of each person’s account; the absence of corroborating information where it should logically exist; information that the Respondent has been found to have harassed others; information that the Complainant has been found to have made false allegations against others; information about the Complainant’s reaction or behavior after the alleged incident; and information about any actions the parties took immediately following the incident, including reporting the matter to others.
In addition, when a person is so impaired or incapacitated as to be incapable of requesting or inviting the conduct, conduct of a sexual nature is deemed unwelcome, provided that the Respondent knew or reasonably should have known of the person’s impairment or incapacity. The person may be impaired or incapacitated as a result of drugs or alcohol or for some other reason, such as sleep or unconsciousness. A Respondent’s impairment at the time of the incident as a result of drugs or alcohol does not, however, diminish the Respondent’s responsibility for sexual or gender-based harassment under this Policy.
Gender-based harassment is verbal, nonverbal, graphic, or physical aggression, intimidation, or hostile conduct based on sex, sex-stereotyping, sexual orientation or gender identity, but not involving conduct of a sexual nature, when such conduct is sufficiently severe, persistent, or pervasive that it interferes with or limits a person’s ability to participate in or benefit from the University’s education or work programs or activities. For example, persistent disparagement of a person based on a perceived lack of stereotypical masculinity or femininity or exclusion from an activity based on sexual orientation or gender identity also may violate this Policy.
This Policy applies to sexual or gender-based harassment that is committed by students, faculty, staff, Harvard appointees, or third parties, whenever the misconduct occurs:
1. On Harvard property; or
2. Off Harvard property, if:
a) the conduct was in connection with a University or University-recognized program or activity; or
b) the conduct may have the effect of creating a hostile environment for a member of the University community.
Monitoring and Confidentiality
A variety of resources are available at the University and in the area to assist those who have experienced gender-based or sexual harassment, including sexual violence.
Individuals considering making a disclosure to University resources should make sure they have informed expectations concerning privacy and confidentiality. The University is committed to providing all possible assistance in understanding these issues and helping individuals to make an informed decision.
It is important to understand that, while the University will treat information it has received with appropriate sensitivity, University personnel may nonetheless need to share certain information with those at the University responsible for stopping or preventing sexual or gender-based harassment. For example, University officers, other than those who are prohibited from reporting because of a legal confidentiality obligation or prohibition against reporting, must promptly notify the School or unit Title IX Coordinator about possible sexual or gender-based harassment, regardless of whether a complaint is filed. Such reporting is necessary for various reasons, including to ensure that persons possibly subjected to such conduct receive appropriate services and information; that the University can track incidents and identify patterns; and that, where appropriate, the University can take steps to protect the Harvard community. This reporting by University officers will not necessarily result in a complaint; rather, the School or unit Title IX Coordinator, in consultation with the Title IX Officer, will assess the information and determine what action, if any, will be taken. Information will be disclosed in this manner only to those at the University who, in the judgment of the Title IX Officer or School or unit Title IX Coordinator, have a need to know.
Should individuals desire to discuss an incident or other information only with persons who are subject to a legal confidentiality obligation or prohibition against reporting, they should ask University officers for information about such resources, which are available both at the University and elsewhere. University officers are available to discuss these other resources and to assist individuals in making an informed decision.
Violations of other Rules
The University encourages the reporting of all concerns regarding sexual or gender-based harassment. Sometimes individuals are hesitant to report instances of sexual or gender-based harassment because they fear they may be charged with other policy violations, such as underage alcohol consumption. Because the University has a paramount interest in protecting the well-being of its community and remedying sexual or gender-based harassment, other policy violations will be considered, if necessary, separately from allegations under this Policy.
Other Sexual and Gender-Based Misconduct Pursuant to the FAS Policy
The Faculty of Arts and Sciences, including the College, share an additional commitment to training our students to be citizens and citizen leaders within a larger community beyond the borders of our campus. For this reason, it is the expectation of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences that all students, whether or not they are on campus or are currently enrolled in a degree program, will behave in a mature and responsible manner. Consistent with this principle, sexual and gender-based misconduct are not tolerated by the FAS even when, because they do not have the effect of creating a hostile environment for a member of the University community, they fall outside the jurisdiction of the University Policy. Because sexual and gender-based misconduct are in direct opposition to our community values, cases involving such conduct may be referred by the Administrative Board to the Harvard University Office for Sexual and Gender-Based Dispute Resolution (“ODR”) for investigation in accordance with the University Procedures and the FAS Policy and Procedures.
To read more about other sexual and gender-based misconduct, including “Conduct in Relationships between Individuals of Different University Status,” please see sections III and IV of the Sexual and Gender-Based Harassment Policy for the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
Procedures for Implementing the Policy, Including for Discipline
FAS Procedures for Implementing the Sexual and Gender-Based Harassment Policy, Including for Discipline
Harvard students, faculty, staff, and other Harvard appointees, or third parties wishing to report a violation of this Policy, should begin by contacting the Harvard University Office for Sexual and Gender-Based Discipline Resolution(“ODR”) or the relevant FAS Title IX Coordinator. In the event that the first FAS officer contacted by an Initiating Party is not the appropriate Title IX Coordinator, it is that FAS officer’s responsibility to forward the matter either to ODR or to the appropriate Title IX Coordinator.
As set forth in the FAS Procedures and in the University Procedures, interim measures designed to support and protect the Initiating Party or the University community may be considered or implemented at any time, including during a request for information or advice, informal resolution, or a formal complaint proceeding. Consistent with FAS policy, interim measures might include, among others: restrictions on contact; course-schedule or work-schedule alteration; changes in housing; leaves of absence; or increased monitoring of certain areas of the campus. Interim measures are subject to review and revision throughout the processes described below.
Requests for Information and Advice
Any FAS student or staff or Faculty member who has a concern, inquiry, or complaint regarding sexual or gender-based harassment or misconduct should feel free to seek information and advice concerning applicable policies, informal resolution, the formal complaint process, and counseling and other services.
Please use the following information to contact ODR:
Office for Sexual and Gender–Based Dispute Resolution
Your College Coordinators are:
Smith Campus Center, Suite 470
1350 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
Title IX Coordinators
Who they are
Title IX Coordinators are individuals responsible for working to coordinate an institution’s compliance with Title IX, a federal civil rights law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in educational institutions that receive federal funding. At Harvard, the College has two Coordinators for students (listed above). These individuals receive ongoing training and are committed to addressing complaints of sexual discrimination in our community. They are a resource available to all students at Harvard College. If you have concerns about events you were involved in, an incident you observed, or an incident that you were told about involving another member of the community, we encourage you to have a conversation with a Title IX Coordinator. Additionally, if you have questions about the investigative process or generally want to learn more about the relevant policies and procedures, please do not hesitate to contact one of your Coordinators.
What they can do for you
Discretion and Sensitivity
Title IX Coordinators are trained to handle sensitive information with appropriate discretion. Although not a confidential resource, they respect and protect privacy to the greatest extent possible, sharing information only on a need-to-know basis, for example, to evaluate interim measures or to enable the University to take action to ensure the safety of the community.
Procedures Concerning Alleged Harassment by Students (Please see Section VI of the FAS Policy for more information on the procedures briefly described below)
An initiating Party may file a formal complaint against a Student, directly with ODR, alleging a violation of this Policy. If an Initiating Party files a formal complaint with a Title IX Coordinator, the Title IX Coordinator will forward the formal complaint to ODR.
The FAS Procedures are intended to supplement the University Procedures and detail the FAS role at moments when the University Procedures refer to actions taken or decisions made by the School or unit. You can find the FAS procedures here. Section (IV) C, sets out procedures pertaining to allegations of sexual or gender-based harassment committed by a student, including a student at Harvard College, GSAS, and both the Extension School and the Summer School within DCE. Sections (VI) D and E, set out procedures pertaining to allegations of sexual or gender-based harassment committed by Faculty and staff.