Sexual Harassment Policy and Procedures
"It is the policy of Southwestern University . . . to maintain both an academic and a working environment free from all forms of sexual harassment of any employee or applicant for,employment, student, donor, or former student volunteer or any other constituent of the University."
- Full Text of policy in Adobe Reader (pdf) format
What is the Sexual Harassment Officer (SHO)
A Sexual Harassment Officer, appointed by the President of the University, is available to assist the University community in dealing with all complaints of sexual harassment and sex-related misconduct (even if the sex-related misconduct is not processed through the Sexual Harassment Policy).
When faculty or staff members suspect sexual harassment on the part of a person or persons under their jurisdiction, they should immediately take action by contacting the Sexual Harassment Officer to discuss the situation and determine a course of action.
The duties and responsibilities of the Sexual Harassment Officer include:
- Receiving niotification from University officials and/or members of the University community of all allegations of sex-related misconduct including, but not limited to, "sexual harassment" and "sexual misconduct";
- Reporting, as needed, to the University community allegations of sexual harassment and sexual misconduct and the subsequent resolution of those reported incidents;
- Reporting the initiation of any formal complaint to the appropriate member of the University's Senior Staff and to the Associate Vice President for Human Resources;
- Serving as Chair of the Sexual Harassment Advisory Committee and reporting, as needed, to the University community the activities of the Committee;
- Arranging for training of Sexual Harrassment Advisors;
- Counseling and assisting Sexual Harassment Advisors throughout the year;
- Initiating the informal and/or formal complaint processes as appropriate; be involved in resolutions of the incidents as appropriate.
The Sexual Harassment Officer
Director of Intercollegiate Athletics and Professor of Kinesiology
What is the Sexual Harassment Advisory Committee?
A group of trained volunteers from faculty, staff, and students who help advise campus constituents about sexual harassment issues.
The Sexual Harassment Advisory Committee is appointed by the President of the University and consists of two students, two faculty members, and two staff/administrators.
The Sexual Harassment Advisor's responsibilities include:
- Providing information regarding the procedures for handling complaints to members of the University community;
- Offering support to persons who suspect that they have been victims of sexual harassment;
- Offering support to persons who have been accused of sexual harassment;
- Actively participating in the Sexual Harassment Advisory Committee; and
- Willingly participating in training for handling sexual harassment situations.
to e-mail the members of the SHAC. Please keep in mind that
e-mail is not exactly a secure medium.
We suggest that e-mails be limited to a sharing of contact information (where, when, etc).
Any campus constituent may contact any Sexual Harassment Advisor. A designation of faculty, staff, or student is indicated only for information. Advisory roles are equivalent.
Joan Parks (staff)
There are also two ex officio members of the Sexual Harassment Advisory Committee who may also act as advisors:
Associate Vice President for Human Resources
Associate Vice President for Academic Administration
How does one become a Sexual Harassment Advisor?
Members of the University community interested in serving as Sexual Harassment Advisors submit applications to the Provost (faculty), the Vice President for Fiscal Affairs (staff), or the Vice President and Dean of Students (students) during the spring semester prior to the academic year of service. Sexual Harassment Advisors are appointed for staggered terms of two academic years, with interim arrangements when necessary for summer.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's)
Q: What is the definition of sexual harassment?
A: The legal definition says that sexual harassment means unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when:
- submission to such conduct is made, either explicitly or implicitly, a term or condition of a person's employment or education; or
- submission or rejection of such conduct by a person is used or threatened as the basis for academic or employment decisions, or evaluations affecting that person; or
- such conduct has the purpose or effect of a) unreasonably interfering with the person's academics or professional performance, or b) of creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive employment, educational or campus environment for any person or group of persons.
Q: What sorts of behavior (verbal and physical) would be considered inappropriate or unacceptable regarding sexual harassment?
A: There are two types of sexual harassment: quid pro quo (something for something) and hostile environment. Some examples of each include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Quid pro quo: a) direct or implied threats that submission to sexual advances will be a condition of employment, work status, promotion, grades, or letters of recommendation; b) intimidating conduct that exerts pressure for sexual activity.
- Hostile environment: a) sexually explicit statements, questions, jokes, anecdotes, or references to sexual orientation; b) inappropriate touching, patting, hugging, or brushing against a person's body; c) inequities in references to males and females (e.g. "men and girls").
Q: If I ask someone out on a date, could that be considered sexual harassment?
A: No, not usually. If the individual declines your request for a date and indicates to you that s/he does not want you to ask again, but you persist, then it could be considered harassing behavior.
Q: I am not sure, but I think someone may have sexually harassed me. What should I do?
A: If you are not comfortable confronting the individual directly, then we encourage you to talk with a Sexual Harassment Advisor (SHA). The SHA is trained to assist you in evaluating your particular situation using Southwestern University's policy of Sexual Harassment. Sometimes just having someone to listen to you can help you evaluate the situation. You can explain the circumstances surrounding the incident to help clarify your thinking on the matter. You may even be advised to write down the details of the incident, which is another way of sorting the facts. Just keep in mind that the SHA's role is to advise, not to make decisions for you. SHA's are not part of the official University complaint procedure regarding decision-making.
Q: Who can utilize the services of a Sexual Harassment Advisor (SHA) at Southwestern University?
A: Any member of the Southwestern University community, including students, faculty and staff.
Q: Do I have to use a Sexual Harassment Advisor (SHA) who is a member of my peer group (e.g student, faculty, staff)?
A: No. Any member of the Southwestern University community can utilize the services of any member of the Sexual Harassment Advisory Committee, including the Sexual Harassment Officer and Ex-Officio members.
Q: What is the difference between the Sexual Harassment Officer (SHO) and the Sexual Harassment Advisors (SHA)?
A: The SHO is appointed by the President of the University to head the Sexual Harassment Advisory Committee and its related activities to deal with complaints of sexual harassment. Details of the SHO's duties are listed within the Sexual Harassment Policy and Procedure. SHA's submit applications to a screening committee each spring to be considered to serve on the committee. The President of the University makes the appointments after a screening committee has reviewed the applications. Details of this process and of the duties of a SHA are contained within the Sexual Harassment Policy and Procedure.
Q: Will you explain the major differences between an informal and formal complaint of sexual harassment at Southwestern University?
A; There are four main phases of handling a sexual harassment complaint: 1) Initial complaint, 2) Investigation, 3) Determination, Notification, Appeal, 4) Disciplinary Actions. The informal complaint process normally ends after phase 1, while the formal complaint process normally goes through all four phases.
Q: If I begin an informal complaint against an individual, can I back out if I change my mind? How about a formal complaint?
A: The SHA will report every complaint to the SHO, whether it is an informal or formal complaint. If the SHO determines that the safety of the alleged victim or any other member of the University community or general public may be at risk, then, no, you would not be able to back out of the process. In all other instances, a case-by-case determination would be made.
Q: But, if I had specifically requested the SHA to maintain confidentiality, wouldn't that make a difference? If not, please define "confidentiality" as it relates to the Sexual Harassment Policy and Procedure.
A: It may not make a difference. It is very important to be aware of the meaning of confidentiality within the Sexual Harassment Policy and Procedure. A SHA will maintain confidentiality within the limits of the law. However, the SHA will report every incident to the SHO who will also maintain confidentiality within the limits of the law. It is important to note that the SHO may determine that the safety of the alleged victim or any other member of the University community or general public may be at risk. If such a determination is made, a full investigation will ensue, even without consent of the alleged victim or alleged harasser. If you have any reservations about this practice, you may want to seriously consider omitting specific names from your conversation with any SHA. Please refer to the full Sexual Harassment Policy and Procedure for more information PRIOR to your discussion with the SHA.
Q: What is the purpose of the SHO being notified of every incident of alleged sexual harassment and how can I be assured that confidentiality will be maintained?
A: It is imperative that the SHO be aware of ALL alleged incidents so those patterns of behavior can be identified over time (particularly if incident reports did not include names of alleged harassers). This information also assists the SHO to develop programs aimed at eradicating such behavior. The SHO will maintain confidentiality within the limits of the law and will not disclose sensitive information to any individual except for those who have a specific need to know.
Q: Will someone on the SHAC serve as my legal cousel if I am involved in a sexual harassment investigation? If not, will someone on the SHAC be able to recommend an attorney to me?
A: No. The role of the SHAC is not to provide legal advice or counsel. Sexual Harassment Advisors provide information regarding the procedures for handling complaints and offer support directly to persons who suspect that they have been victims of sexual harassment and to persons who have been accused of sexual harassment.
Q: What are the qualifications of a Sexual Harassment Advisor (SHA)?
A: SHA's are simply individuals within the University community who are interested in serving as a SHA and have made an application with the screening committee.