Sexual Harassment Policy

It is the policy of Arkansas Tech University to maintain the University community as a place of work and study for staff, faculty, and students free of harassment, including sexual and gender harassment and all forms of sexual intimidation and exploitation.  All students, staff, and faculty should be aware both that the University is concerned and prepared to take action to prevent and correct such behavior.

Sexual harassment by any faculty, staff or student is a violation of both law and University policy and will not be tolerated at Arkansas Tech University.  The University considers sexual harassment to be a very serious issue and shall subject the offender to dismissal or other sanctions following the University's investigation and substantiation of the complaint and compliance with due process requirements.

The determination of what constitutes sexual harassment will vary with the particular circumstances, but it may be generally described as repeated and unwanted sexual behavior, such as physical contact and verbal comments or suggestions that adversely affect the working or learning environments of others.

EEOC Guidelines define sexual harassment as unwelcome sexual advances, request for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when:

  1. Submission to such conduct is either explicitly or implicitly made a condition of an individual's employment with the University or a factor in the educational program of a student; and/or
  1. Submission to or a rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for an employment or academic decision affecting such individuals; and/or
  1. Such conduct has the purpose or effect of substantially interfering with an individual's right to achieve an educational objective or to work in an environment free of intimidation, hostility, or threats stemming from acts or language of a sexual nature.

Although sexual harassment most frequently occurs when there is an authority differential between the persons involved (Faculty member and student, supervisor and staff member), it may also occur between persons of the same status (e.g. faculty-faculty, staff-staff, student-student).  Both men and women may be victims of sexual harassment and sexual harassment may occur between individuals of the same gender.

Because of the unique situations which exist between students, faculty, supervisors and staff, relationships in the workplace and on campus should at all times remain professional.  In particular, due to the professional power differential between faculty and students, faculty members are encouraged to remain professional in all relationships with students.  As teachers, professors, encourage the free pursuit of learning by their students.  They hold before them the best scholarly standards of their discipline.  Professors demonstrate respect for students as individuals and adhere to their proper roles as intellectual guides and counselors.  Professors make every reasonable effort to foster honest academic conduct and to assure that their evaluations of students reflects each student's true merit.  They respect the confidential nature of the relationship between professor and student.  They avoid any exploitation, harassment, or discriminatory treatment of students.  They acknowledge significant academic or scholarly assistance from them.  They protect their academic freedom.

Sexual harassment may create a hostile, abusive, demeaning, offensive or intimidating environment.  It is manifested by verbal or physical actions, including gestures and other symbolic conduct.  Sexual harassment is not always obvious and overt; it can also be subtle and covert.  A person who consents to sexual advances may nevertheless be a victim of sexual harassment if those advances were unwelcome.

If a professor's speech or conduct takes place in the teaching context, it must also be persistent, pervasive and not germane to the subject matter.  The academic setting is distinct from the workplace in that wide latitude is required for professional judgment in determining the appropriate content and presentation of academic material.

Examples of sexual harassment may include, but are not limited to the following:

Verbal abuse of a sexual nature, which is considered to include, but is not limited to epithets, derogatory comments, sexual advances, invitations, propositions, comments, or requests for sexual favors;

Intimate unwelcome physical contact;

Repeated unwanted discussions of sexual matters;

Use of sexual jokes, stories, analogies or images which are not related to the subject of the class or work situation;

Ogling, leering, or prolonged staring at another persons body;

Display or use of sexual graffiti or sexually-explicit pictures or objects;

Sexually suggestive jokes, comments, e-mails, or other written or oral communications;

Condition, explicitly or implicitly, academic or employment decisions upon an individuals submission to requests for sexual favors or conduct.

Individuals who are aware of or have been subjected to sexual harassment are encouraged to promptly contact the Affirmative Action Officer.

Resolution Options

The University provides two options for reporting and resolving matters involving sexual harassment:  an informal resolution process and a formal complaint process.  An individual who believes that he or she has been subjected to sexual harassment and seeks to take action may use the informal resolution process, the formal complaint process, or both.  First use of the informal resolution process will, in most cases, be consistent with fairness and correcting an undesired circumstance with a minimum of emotional and professional damage. The informal resolution process and formal complaint resolution process are not mutually exclusive and neither is required as a pre-condition for choosing the other; however, they cannot both be used at the same time.

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