Sexual Harassment and Sexual Misconduct

No faculty member, administrator, staff member, applicant for employment, student, or member of the public may be subject to restraint, interference, coercion, or reprisal for action taken in good faith to seek advice concerning a sexual harassment matter, for filing a sexual harassment complaint, or for serving as a witness or as a panel member in the investigation of a sexual harassment complaint.

The Law

Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination prohibited by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (as amended), by Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, and by the Texas Commission on Human Rights Act.

SEXUAL HARASSMENT is a form of Sex discrimination It is illegal.

Sexual harassment is unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other unwelcome verbal or physical behavior of a sexual nature where

  1. Submission to such conduct is made, either explicitly or implicitly, a term or a condition of an individual’s education or employment;
  2. Submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for academic or employment decisions affecting the individual’s welfare; or
  3. Such conduct has the purpose or effect of substantially interfering with an individual’s welfare or academic or work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile, offensive, or demeaning educational or work environment.

Sexual harassment can occur between persons of the same or opposite sex. In addition, the victim does not necessarily have to be the person to whom the unwelcome sexual conduct is directed but could be a third party who is affected by behavior that substantially interferes with that third party’s welfare or academic or work performance.

Two types of sexual harassment are recognized; quid pro quo and hostile environment harassment.

  • Quid pro quo harassment occurs when someone in a supervisory position conditions the granting of a work or academically related benefit upon the receipt of sexual favors or punishes the subordinate for rejecting the offer.
  • Hostile environment harassment occurs when persons create an atmosphere so pervasive with sexual harassment that it has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s psychological well-being or ability to be productive.


Unwelcome Physical Advance

  • Unwelcome and inappropriate touching, patting, or pinching
  • Attempted or actual fondling or kissing
  • Physical assault or coerced sexual activity

Unwelcome Verbal Behavior

  • Unwelcome demands or subtle pressure for sexual favors
  • Sexually suggestive jokes or innuendoes; derogatory, degrading, or sexist remarks about a person’s body, clothing, or sexual activities
  • Suggestive or insulting sounds, whistles, catcalls
  • Obscene phone calls

Unwelcome Nonverbal Behavior

  • Inappropriate display in work or study area of sexually suggestive objects, pictures, videotapes, audio recordings, or literature
  • Obscene gestures

PEER HARASSMENT is one of the most common forms of Sexual Harassment.


Don’t Ignore the Problem.

Ignoring the problem will not make it go away. In fact, if you ignore the behavior it may be viewed as approval by the harasser. Avoidance tactics do not work either. If you are unsure that what you are experiencing is sexual harassment, talk to someone you trust or discuss the matter informally with the director of EEOP or any of the university officials listed in this brochure under the caption “Where To Go For Help.”

Say No

Confront the harasser directly, indicating that the conduct is offensive to you and must stop. If you are uncomfortable with speaking up, there are university officials to assist and advise you.

Seek Help and Report the Incident Immediately.

Discuss the situation with someone with whom you feel comfortable. Seek the assistance of departmental officials or college masters, equal opportunity officials, or human resources or student affairs personnel in obtaining advice and guidance in handling the matter.


Care is taken during the investigatory process to protect the rights of all parties. There is little likelihood that you will suffer any adverse action as a consequence of a malicious, false complaint brought against you, since the inquiry is confidential and no disciplinary action is taken unless the complaint has been formally investigated and is found to be justified.

A complainant whose allegations are found to be both false and brought with malicious intent will be subject to disciplinary action.


Complaints are handled as discreetly as possible. Privacy and confidentiality are maintained to the extent possible, with information being shared only with those administrators with a compelling need to know for the purpose of investigating or resolving the complaint.


All matters of sexual harassment are taken seriously. In order to encourage persons experiencing sexual harassment to come forward, the university provides two avenues for resolving complaints, one informal and the other formal.

Informal Complaint Resolution

Most complaints are resolved at the informal level. Often the complainant only wants the inappropriate behavior to cease, and that is the goal of informal resolution. No attempt is made to determine whether there was intent to harass, the matter is not formally investigated, and no disciplinary action is taken. To the extent possible, information disclosed during this process is held in confidence, unless and until the complaining individual agrees that additional people must be informed in order to find a solution.

Formal Complaint Resolution

The filing of a written complaint is required for a sexual harassment complaint to be formally investigated and disciplinary action taken if appropriate. Formal complaints of sexual harassment against a member of the faculty or staff are filed with the Office of Equal Employment Opportunity Programs; complaints against students are directed to the assistant dean of student judicial programs.

Once a formal complaint is filed, the alleged offender is informed of the identity of the complaintant and the charges and requested to respond. Either the complaintant or the accused may request that a formal complaint be investigated by a panel of inquiry. The assistant dean may also refer matters to a panel of inquiry.

The panels are selected by the president of the university from a pool of faculty, students, graduate students, and staff nominated by their constituencies. The panel hears the complainant, the respondent, and witnesses identified by each party and examines all evidence it deems necessary. The rights of both parties are observed, and privacy and confidentiality are protected to the extent possible. At the conclusion of the investigation, a report is presented to the appropriate administrative official(s) who will take the necessary action.


Each member of the Rice community has a role to play in preventing sexual harassment and a responsibility for ensuring that the work and academic environment is harassment free.

  • Become informed about the issue of sexual harassment and what constitutes appropriate and inappropriate behavior.
  • Before making a sexual advance or comment, ask yourself whether it is reasonable to believe your behavior is appropriate and welcome.
  • Be knowledgeable about university policy and procedures on sexual harassment so that you know what to do if someone comes to you for advice or if you are the victim of sexual harassment.
  • Trust your instincts about possible danger signals.
  • Don’t tolerate or ignore sexually offensive behavior.
  • If you are being sexually harassed, speak up! Communicate your displeasure clearly and directly.
    If the behavior is unwelcome, the individual needs to know that.
  • Report incidents promptly.
  • If you are involved in a complaint as complaintant, alleged offender, or witness, please respect the privacy and confidentiality of all concerned. Breaches of confidentiality have a chilling effect on individuals’ willingness to come forward with complaints.

Rice University
Virtual Office 
SAFE Office
Phone: (713) 348-3311

Arizona State University
Jodi Preudhomme
Title IX Coordinator & Special Counsel
Office of the President
P.O. Box. 876503
Tempe, AZ 85287-6503
Phone: (480) 965-0696

The University of Texas at El Paso
Office of Institutional Compliance — Title IX Office
Kelly Hall, Room 312
500 W University
El Paso, Texas 79968
Phone: (915) 747-8358

Yale University
Office of the Provost
Phone: (203) 432-6854