Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment occurs when unwanted attention of a sexual nature interferes with a student’s ability to obtain an education, work, or participate in recreational or social activities at Michigan Tech. Sexual harassment is an abuse of informal or formal power or authority. Persistently high rates of sexual harassment among students at the secondary level disrupt students’ ability to learn and succeed in their studies.

Sexual harassment on the part of faculty may be very overt or very subtle. At Michigan Tech there is no place for discrimination or discriminatory harassment, prohibited by Title VII, 42 U.S.C. §1981, 42 U.S.C. §1983, Title VI, Title IX, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Michigan Handicappers' Act, the Michigan Ethnic Intimidation Act, the Michigan Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act, and the Board of Control Policy. These behaviors by any member of the Michigan Tech community are prohibited and are subject to disciplinary procedures up to and including discharge (Board of Control Policy 5.3).

Sexual harassment may be verbal, physical, or visual and includes

  • derogatory, offensive, threatening or intimidating comments, epithets, slurs, or jokes;
  • references to gender, physical appearance, attire, sexual prowess, marital status, or pregnancy;
  • sexual advances, propositions, or demands;
  • displayed or circulated derogatory or offensive posters, cartoons, drawings, photographs, pin-ups, computer images, or electronic media transmission;
  • unwelcome or unnecessary and offensive touching, such as assault, battery, kissing, hugging, patting, rubbing, groping, pinching, or brushing up against;
  • staring, leering, gesturing, whistling, impeding, or blocking movement;
  • pressure to spend time with a professor/teaching assistant/staff member/other student outside the academic setting, to get romantically involved or date, or personal questions that make a student feel uncomfortable; and
  • asking a student directly for sexual favors in exchange for a better/passing grade, assignment, or a favorable recommendation (quid pro quo).

Students who are sexually harassed can be confused, worried, or angry that they don’t know how to handle the situation. They may fear retaliation. Many are worried that they are to blame for the situation.

If a student complains of sexual harassment:

Do

  • Take the report seriously.
  • Validate the student’s feelings and experience.
  • Listen and sympathize, but don’t judge.
  • Assure the student that the University takes sexual harassment seriously and will not tolerate it.
  • Respond to the student’s concerns. Assure the student that the institution will do everything in its power to ensure confidentiality as far as possible (but make no promises), to prevent retaliation and stop further harassment.
  • Contact Institutional Equity for assistance at 906-487-3310.
  • Follow up with the student the next day to ensure that he or she is getting the assistance they need.
  • Refer the student to Counseling Services, 906-487-2538, as appropriate.

Don't

  • Ignore the student.
  • Minimize the situation.
  • Judge whether the behavior is or is not sexual harassment.
  • Assure the student that you can ensure confidentiality. Once an agent of the University knows about the existence of potential sexual harassment, our institution is officially “on notice.” Faculty and staff are mandated reporters and should contact the office of Institutional Equity.
  • Delay referring the student to Institutional Equity. Delays of even a few days can make it more difficult to resolve the situation or send a signal to the student that the University is not taking the complaint or problem seriously.

References