Sexual Harassment Policy

A healthy and productive educational community is one in which students, faculty, and all staff treat each other with mutual respect. Such a community requires an atmosphere free of discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, ancestry, or military service. Sexual harassment, a form of discrimination based on sex or sexual orientation, clearly endangers such an atmosphere and is not tolerated at Williams College. Behavior that constitutes sexual harassment is also prohibited by both state and federal law.

Williams College takes seriously any allegation of sexual harassment and will investigate all such charges promptly. Sexual misconduct by students is dealt with according to the policy on Rape, Sexual Assault, and Sexual Misconduct, above. In deciding whether alleged conduct constitutes sexual harassment, and in determining the degree of seriousness of the harassment, the College will look at the record as a whole and at the totality of the circumstances, such as the nature of the sexual conduct and the context in which the alleged incidents occurred. The College’s actions, which are designed primarily to remedy any harm done to those who have been subjected to sexual harassment and to protect other members of the community, may range from a warning to suspension or expulsion, when the offender is a student. When the offender is a faculty or staff member, the disciplinary action may range from a reprimand to non–reappointment or the initiation of proceedings for dismissal for cause. They may also include warnings regarding the consequences of future misconduct, removal from certain teaching, advising, or supervisory roles, and other restrictions on the person’s professional role at the College. Students and employees who believe they have been sexually harassed may use the discrimination grievance procedures in the Student Handbook, Faculty Handbook, Administrative Staff Handbook, and Support Staff Handbook. Questions of confidentiality are addressed in the discrimination grievance procedures.

See pages below for details on Williams College Sexual Harassment Policy and discrimination grievance procedures. See also the pamphlet, Sexual Harassment, distributed annually.

Title IX Coordinator. Toya Camacho, Assistant Vice President for Institutional Diversity and Equity, is the Title IX Coordinator for the College. In that capacity she has responsibility for coordinating the College’s compliance with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, 20 USC sec. 1681 et seq. The Title IX Coordinator’s office is in Hopkins Hall and her email address is [email protected].

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Policies and procedures, approved by the Faculty on December 5, 1990 and by the Board of Trustees on January 19, 1991, effective as of May 6, 1991. See accompanying Non–Discrimination Policy and Grievance Procedures. Policies and Procedures are also available in the Student Handbook, the Faculty Handbook, the Support Staff Handbook, and the Administrative Staff Handbook.

SEXUAL HARASSMENT POLICY1

A healthy and productive educational community is one in which students, faculty, and all staff treat each other with mutual respect. Such a community requires an atmosphere free of discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, ancestry, or military service. Sexual harassment, a form of discrimination based on sex or sexual orientation, clearly endangers such an atmosphere and is not tolerated at Williams College. Behavior that constitutes sexual harassment is also prohibited by both state and federal law.

The College’s definition of sexual harassment, which is based on the definition formulated by the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and state legislation, is as follows:

Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when

(1) submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment, instruction, or participation in other college activities, or

(2) submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as a basis for making academic, employment, or personnel decisions affecting that individual, or

(3) such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s performance by creating an intimidating or hostile educational or working environment.

Sexual harassment breaches the trust that should exist among members of an educational community. Sexual harassment can have an impact on any member of the college community regardless of sex or sexual orientation. It can occur between people whether or not they are in a relationship where one has power over the other, or are of different sexes or gender identities. Victims can be anyone; students or members of the faculty or staff; superiors, subordinates, or peers. Sexual harassment can disturb the climate in classroom, residence, or workplace, and alter the course of one’s education or career, presenting obstacles to the free and full development of an individual. It can, moreover, cause serious and lasting harm to an individual. The College is committed, therefore, to taking whatever action may be needed to prevent, correct, and, if necessary, discipline behavior that constitutes sexual harassment. Officers of the College and advisors who are conversant with the definitions of sexual harassment and the procedures the College uses to prevent and remedy discriminatory behavior are available to all members of the community for consultation.

The term sexual harassment covers a broad range of behavior. Examples of the forms it can take include sexually offensive remarks or conduct; repeated or persistent remarks, jokes, or other actions that are demeaning to one’s sex, gender identity, gender expression, or sexual orientation; unwanted physical contact; requests or demands for sexual favors accompanied by implicitly or explicitly promised rewards or threatened punishment; attempted or completed physical sexual assault. Behavior that constitutes sexual harassment is actionable under the College’s discrimination grievance procedures.

Sexual harassment may also be at issue in relationships that begin as consensual ones. Anyone in a position of institutional authority over other persons should be sensitive to the potential for coercion in sexual relationships that also involve professional relationships. These problematic relationships may involve persons in a position of authority over their institutional subordinates (e.g., tenured faculty and non–tenured faculty; administrators and staff); or they may involve those who teach and counsel students. Sexual harassment, when it exploits the authority the institution gives to its faculty and staff, or otherwise compromises the boundary between personal and professional roles, is an abuse of the power the College entrusts to its faculty and staff. Anyone who willingly enters into a sexual relationship is, of course, in some measure personally responsible for the consequences of having done so. In cases, however, where a sexual relationship between a faculty member and a student, or a supervisor and a subordinate, occurs during a period of instructional or supervisory responsibility, the person in the position of authority will be held accountable, by virtue of his or her professional responsibility, should a claim of sexual harassment be lodged against him or her. The recommendations and requirements described in sections A and B below are designed to protect the integrity of the College’s instructional, counseling, and supervisory responsibilities by separating sexual relationships from professional ones, where instruction or supervision is involved.

A. Potentially Coercive Relationships Between Students and Faculty or Staff

All faculty and many staff are potentially in a position of power with regard to students; hence, sexual relationships between employees and students are in almost all cases inappropriate. A sexual relationship between them, however, is altogether unacceptable, when a faculty or staff member actually does have teaching, evaluative, advising, or supervisory responsibilities for a student, even if the parties involved view the relation as consensual. Sexual relationships in the instructional context are likely to put claims of consent in question. It is often difficult for a student to be certain of the motives of a member of the faculty or staff. It is also difficult for a person in a position of authority to be certain that the student’s consent is genuine, rather than motivated by an unspoken fear of the consequences of not consenting. In addition, a sexual relationship with a student for whom one has professional responsibilities may raise questions of unfair academic advantage or of unwarranted negative evaluation, which can adversely affect the educational environment for other students, as well as for the person directly involved. Should any of these questions arise, sexual discrimination is at issue.

To protect the integrity of the educational process, the College requires a faculty or staff member a) to refrain, except under unusual circumstances and with the permission of the appropriate executive officer, from taking on any teaching, evaluative, counseling, or supervisory roles involving a student with whom he or she has had a sexual relationship in the past. The College also requires a faculty or staff member b) to remove himself or herself from any teaching, evaluative, counseling, or supervisory role involving a student with whom he or she is currently having a sexual relationship, even if it is considered consensual. Since the absence of the faculty or staff member may deprive the student of educational, counseling, or career opportunities, both parties should be mindful of the potential costs to the student before entering into a sexual relationship. If they nonetheless choose to do so, and the faculty or staff member currently has professional responsibilities for the student, the parties involved should consult with either party’s executive officer or department chair/director about how best to implement the removal, abiding by the administrator’s decision. A faculty or staff person who does not abide by rules (a) and (b) is at substantial risk under College policy to complaints of coercion, or of preferential or prejudicial treatment. Should the complaint be found valid, the faculty or staff member will also be subject to disciplinary action.

B. Potentially Coercive Relationships Involving Faculty and/or Staff

A sexual relationship with a member of the faculty or staff for whom one has professional responsibilities may similarly put claims of consent into question or raise questions of unfair evaluation. To protect the integrity of the working relationships among employees, the College requires anyone in a position of authority a) to refrain from any supervisory, evaluative or counseling role involving a subordinate with whom he or she has had a sexual relationship in the past, unless the circumstances warrant a waiver. The College also requires a faculty or staff person b) to remove him or herself from any supervisory, evaluative, or counseling role involving a subordinate employee with whom he or she currently has a sexual relationship. The parties involved should consult with either party’s executive officer or department chair/director concerning the need for a waiver or a removal. That person shall grant or deny the waiver or arrange for the removal, and the parties involved shall abide by the administrator’s decision. A faculty or staff person who does not abide by rules (a) and (b) is at substantial risk under College policy to complaints of coercion, or of preferential or prejudicial treatment. Should the complaint be found valid, the faculty or staff member will also be subject to disciplinary action.

Williams College takes seriously any allegation of sexual harassment and will investigate all such charges promptly. In deciding whether alleged conduct constitutes sexual harassment, and in determining the degree of seriousness of the harassment, the College will look at the record as a whole and at the totality of the circumstances, such as the nature of the sexual conduct and the context in which the alleged incidents occurred. The College’s actions, which are designed primarily to remedy any harm done to those who have been subjected to sexual harassment and to protect other members of the community, may range from a warning to suspension or expulsion, when the offender is a student. When the offender is a faculty or staff member, the disciplinary action may range from a reprimand to non–reappointment or the initiation of proceedings for dismissal for cause. They may also include warnings regarding the consequences of future misconduct, removal from certain teaching, advising, or supervisory roles, and other restrictions on the person’s professional role at the College. Students and employees who believe they have been sexually harassed may use the discrimination grievance procedures in the Student Handbook, Faculty Handbook, Administrative Staff Handbook, and Support Staff Handbook. Questions of confidentiality are addressed in the discrimination grievance procedures.

C. Retaliation Prohibited

Persons who make complaints or bring charges of sexual harassment against another member of the College community may not be subjected to retaliation of any sort for having done so. Anyone who retaliates against another person in violation of this rule will be subject to disciplinary action through the established procedures of the College.

Footnotes for Sexual Harassment Policy

1   Nothing in this policy statement should be taken to supersede the College’s commitment to academic freedom, which it hereby re–affirms. The College follows the American Association of University Professors’ “1970 Interpretive Comments” of the “1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure, with 1970 Interpretive Comments,” which state that “controversy is at the heart of … free academic inquiry” but simultaneously “underscore the need for teachers to avoid persistently intruding material which has no relation to their subject” (AAUP Policy Documents and Reports, Ninth ed., 2001, p. 5).

2   The discrimination grievance procedures define the officers and advisors (see Advising Procedure, paragraph 1 and Informal Procedure, paragraph 1).

3   For the purposes of the discrimination grievance procedures, the executive officer for students is the Dean of the College; for faculty, the Dean of the Faculty; and for staff, the Vice–President for Finance and Administration.

4 The removal rule (b) applies also to students who have job supervision responsibilities for other students at the College. A student should not participate in any decisions that would confer direct employment benefits on or withhold them from a student with whom he or she has or has had a sexual relationship. Students to whom this may apply should consult with the department director, who will decide what sort of removal, if any, is required.

5   Failure to abide by rules (a) and (b) may also subject a faculty or staff member to charges of conflict of interest.

6   Failure to abide by rules (a) and (b) may also subject a faculty or staff member to charges of conflict of interest. It should be noted that a removal policy is also in place for family relationships (Faculty Handbook, II–P; Administrative Staff Handbook, Section IV; Support Staff Handbook, Section IV.