Sexual Harassment: Get Support

What Is Sexual Harassment?

Sexual harassment is unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal, visual, or physical conduct of a sexual nature in which submission to or rejection of such conduct explicitly or implicitly affects an individual's work or school performance or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work or school environment.

Sexual harassment can include the following behaviors:

  • Sex-specific derogatory names, i.e, calling a woman slut or whore
  • Spreading sexual rumors
  • Rating people on sexual activity or performance
  • Disseminating compromising photographs or videos of a student
  • Circulating, showing, or creating emails or websites of a sexual nature
  • Demanding hugs
  • Invading personal space
  • Making unnecessary physical contact, including unwanted touching
  • Leering or inappropriate staring

Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission defines sexual harassment as “unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when this conduct explicitly or implicitly affects an individual's employment, unreasonably interferes with an individual's work performance, or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment."

    Sexual Harassment in an Academic Setting

    Sexual harassment is associated with the following situations:

    • A student harassing another student or students
    • A professor or staff member harassing a student
    • A student harassing a professor or staff member

    In academic settings, sexual harassment often encompasses an unequal power dynamic, where one person is in a position of power, such as a club leader, professor, teaching assistant, or advisor.

    Types of Harassment

    There are two main types of harassment in workplace or academic settings:

    • Quid pro quo, or "this for that": when sexual favors or requests are made on the condition of one’s employment or academic career
    • Hostile environment: when the harassment is severe or pervasive enough to create an environment that a reasonable person would consider intimidating, hostile, or abusive