Two Policies Reissued by the Provost
I. Sexual Harassment Policy
Our community depends on trust and civility. A willingness to recognize the dignity and worth of each person at the University is essential to our
It is the responsibility of each person on campus to respect the personal dignity of others. We expect members of our University community to
demonstrate a basic generosity of spirit that precludes expressions of bigotry.
Penn properly celebrates the diversity of its community. We come to Penn from many different backgrounds and include different races, religions,
sexual orientations, and ethnic ancestries. Learning to understand the differences among us, as well as the similarities, is an important dimension of
education, one that continues for a lifetime. Tolerance alone, however, is not enough. Respect and understanding also are needed. We should delight
in our differences, and should seek to appreciate the richness and personal growth which our diversity provides to us as members of this community.
The University is committed to freedom of thought, discourse and speech, and the attainment of the highest quality of academic and educational
pursuits and daily work. Policies and regulations implementing this commitment include the Statement on Academic Freedom and Responsibility, the
Guidelines on Open Expression, and the Code of Academic Integrity.
The University also has established policies on behaviors that interfere with these freedoms. Foremost among these policies is the University's
Statement on Non-Discrimination, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, sexual preference, religion, national or ethnic origin,
handicap or disability.
The University also has adopted the following policy concerning sexual harassment. The terms "harassment " and "sexual harassment" as used
throughout, are defined as a matter of University policy, and are not necessarily identical or limited to the uses of that term in external sources, including
governmental guidelines or regulations.
II. Purposes and Definitions
- A. Purpose
For many years the University has stressed that sexual harassment is not tolerated at Penn. As an employer and as an educational institution, the
University is committed to eradicating sexual harassment.
Sexual harassment in any context is reprehensible and is a matter of particular concern to an academic community in which students, faculty, and
staff must rely on strong bonds of intellectual trust and dependence.
- B. Definition
For the purposes of University policy, the term "sexual harassment" refers to any unwanted sexual attention that:
- Involves a stated or implicit threat to the victim's academic or employment status;
- Has the purpose or effect of interfering with an individual's academic or work performance; and/or,
- Creates an intimidating or offensive academic, living, or work environment.
The University regards such behavior, whether verbal or physical, as a violation of the standards of conduct required of all persons associated with
the institution. Accordingly, those inflicting such behavior on others are subject to the full range of internal institutional disciplinary actions, including
separation from the University. Likewise, acts of retaliation will be subject to the same range of disciplinary actions.
As noted in the Handbook for Faculty and Academic Administrators, Policies and Procedures, the Academic Bulletin, and other University
publications, persons engaged in such harassment within the University setting are subject to the full range of internal institutional disciplinary actions,
including separation from the institution.
Not every act that might be offensive to an individual or a group necessarily will be considered as harassment and/or a violation of the University's
standard of conduct. In determining whether an act constitutes harassment, the totality of the circumstances that pertain to any given incident in its
context must be carefully reviewed and due consideration must be given to the protection of individual rights, freedom of speech, academic freedom
School and administrative units should make known to all of their members the available resources and the informal and formal procedures for
resolving complaints of sexual harassment within the unit or at the University Level.
These resources include the following:
- A. Information, Counseling, and Support
The following University resources are available to members of the University community who seek information and counseling about University
policies on sexual harassment, standards of behavior, informal and formal mechanisms for resolving complaints and resources for complainants and
Deans and directors may also make referrals to these resource offices:
- Office of Affirmative Action
- African American Resource Center
- Faculty/Staff Assistance Program
- Lesbian Gay Bisexual Center
- Office of Labor Relations
- Office of the Ombudsman
- Office of Staff Relations
- Victim Support Services
- Penn Women's Center
- Student Health Services
- Counseling and Psychological Services
- Office of the Vice Provost for University Life
- B. Informal Mechanisms for Mediation and Resolution
The Ombudsman, the Office of Affirmative Action, the Penn Women's Center, all other offices named as resource offices in this policy, the Judicial
Inquiry Officer, the Office of Residential Living, department chairs, deans and administrative directors, the provost, and the senior vice president are
available to assist in the informal resolution of complaints.
- C. Formal Mechanisms for Resolution and Adjudication
When informal resolution is not chosen or is unsatisfactory, complainants are urged to use appropriate formal mechanisms described below:
- Complaints of sexual harassment against a faculty member, instructor, or teaching assistant may be brought by a student, staff, or faculty member
to the department chair or dean of the faculty member. The department chair or dean who receives a complaint is then charged with pursuing the matter.
While the process depends on the particulars of the complaint, normally the department chair or dean interviews the faculty member. If the matter is
not resolved informally, the department chair or dean either conducts an investigation or requests that the Ombudsman, the Office of Affirmative Action,
the Office of Staff Relations, or the Office of Labor Relations do so. If the results of the investigation persuade the dean or department chair that sanctions
are warranted, he/she consults with faculty members--without disclosing the identity of the individuals involved--to aid in determining an appropriate sanction, including whether there is substantial reason to believe that just cause exists for suspension or termination. If it is determined that action should
be taken to suspend or terminate, the dean should refer the matter to the Committee on Academic Freedom and Responsibility of the school in
accordance with the procedures set out in section II. E.10 of the
Handbook for Faculty and Academic Administrators (1989).
- Complaints of sexual harassment against a staff member may be brought by a student, staff member or faculty member to the supervisor of the
person complained against. The supervisor who receives the complaint is then charged with pursuing the matter. While the process will depend on
the particulars of the complaint, normally the supervisor interviews the staff member. If the matter is not resolved informally, the supervisor either
conducts an investigation or requests that the Ombudsman, the Office of Affirmative Action, the Office of Staff Relations, or the Office of Labor
Relations do so. If the result of the investigation persuades the supervisor that sanctions are warranted, he or she consults with his or her colleagues
or supervisor--without disclosing the identity of the individual(s) involved to aid in determining an appropriate sanction. A staff member who believes
that his or her rights have been violated directly by another staff member or administrator may file a grievance by contacting the Office of Staff Relations
within the Office of Human Resources under the University of Pennsylvania Staff Grievance Procedure.
- Complaints by students of sexual harassment may be made to the Office of the Vice Provost for University Life. Grievances associated with
sexual harassment in student employment may also fall within the purview of the Vice Provost for University Life.
- A complaint of sexual harassment may be brought against a student by filing a complaint under the Charter of the University Student Judicial
System, or, if the respondent is a graduate or professional student enrolled in a school which has established a hearing board or other decision-making
body, with that body.
- A tenured or untenured faculty member, whether full or part time, who believes she or he has been subjected to sexual harassment by a faculty
member or by an academic administrator may file a grievance under the Faculty Grievance Procedure,
Handbook for Faculty and Academic Administrators (1989)
, part II E. 15, provided the complaint constitutes a grievance as defined in Section I of the Procedure. This procedure is
administered by the Faculty Grievance Commission. The panel makes its recommendations to the provost. In cases that involve reappointment,
promotion or tenure, and in which the provost has declined or failed to implement the recommendations of the panel to the satisfaction of the grievant,
the grievant may obtain a hearing before the Senate Committee on Academic Freedom and Responsibility on the actions of the provost.
- If the matter has not previously been referred to a different panel or committee, a student or staff member who believes that she or he has been
subjected to sexual harassment by a faculty member, and whose complaint has not been resolved through the mechanisms listed above, may bring the
matter to the Faculty Senate Committee on Conduct.This committee is a standing committee of the Faculty Senate. At meetings with the Committee,
the student or staff member may be accompanied by an advisor who is a member of the University community (student, faculty, or staff). The findings
and recommendations of the Committee shall be advisory and shall be submitted to the provost for her or his decision and implementation.
- D. Central Reporting of Sexual Harassment
- A decentralized system of resources encourages the reporting and resolution of complaints of sexual harassment. To that end, and with the
consent of the complainant, those offices described in Sections III.A and III.B of this policy that have handled through mediation or counseling a
complaint that was not submitted to a formal hearing board should forward to the Ombudsman a report of the matter as soon as it is received. Such
reports should not include the names of the persons involved. They should include, however, a description of the complaint, the schools or
administrative units with which the complainant and respondent are affiliated, and the disposition of the complaint. In the case of a large department
in a large school, the department also should be identified. Reports from decentralized areas will enable the Ombudsman to identify patterns in a
particular location and the frequency of such incidents in a given area. Such information can then be transmitted to the appropriate dean or
administrative supervisor. The reports will also enable the Ombudsman to act on behalf of the community and to conduct whatever investigation he
or she deems necessary to determine whether University regulations are being violated.
- Summary reports of formal charges of sexual harassment that have been adjudicated and records of their disposition should be forwarded to
the Ombudsman's Office as a matter of information by the resource offices named in this policy.
- Based on the information forwarded to her or him during the previous year, the Ombudsman shall submit to the president on an annual basis
a summary report of the number and type of formal and informal charges of sexual harassment and their resolution by September 15 of the academic
year. This report will be shared with the University community early in the semester.
- E. Education and Prevention
The prevention of sexual harassment and the establishment of effective procedures with due concern for all parties require a thoughtful educational
- University resource offices will provide to the community information on: a. available mediation and resolution resources; and b. sources of
support and information for victims and respondents.
- Deans and heads of major administrative units are encouraged to discuss this policy and issues of sexual harassment at meetings of faculty and
- Training programs for residential advisors, senior administrative fellows, those who meet students in crisis situations and others serving in an
advisory capacity to students will include training about referrals, resources, and methods for handling instances of sexual harassment.
- An overall educational program for students that addresses issues of peer sexual harassment and also provides information, definition, support,
and the identification of sexual harassment resources has been developed by the Office of the Vice Provost for University Life, the Office of Affirmative
Action, and the Penn Women's Center in conjunction with the Office of Residential Living, the Council of College House Masters, and the Council
of Senior Faculty Residents involved with the Freshman Year Program. Such an educational program is directed toward new undergraduate and
graduate and professional students.
- The University will publish annually the operative portions of this policy statement, including information about the resources available to
advise, counsel, and assist in the mediation of sexual harassment allegations. Information will explain how and where to contact University-wide and
school-specific resources and will be posted in conspicuous locations. All members of the University should feel a responsibility to try to prevent sexual
harassment whenever they observe it. Community members should report sexual harassment to appropriate University resources promptly for
- F. Exit Interviews
Deans and administrative directors will periodically survey departing students, faculty and staff to measure the existence and frequency of reports
of sexual harassment. Based on the data yielded by these surveys and the annual reports of the Ombudsman, the University administration will
determine, in consultation with the University Council, whether there is a need for further efforts to be taken on the issue of sexual harassment.
- G. Implementation
Deans and administrative directors will be responsible for the implementation of this policy. The provost and senior vice president will oversee
the performance of deans and directors in the implementation of this policy.
II. Policy on Consensual Sexual Relations Between Faculty and
The relationship between teacher and student is central to the academic mission of the University. No non-academic or personal ties should be
allowed to interfere with the integrity of the teacher-student relationship. Consensual sexual relations between teacher and student can adversely affect the academic enterprise, distorting judgments or appearing to do so in the minds of others, and providing incentives or disincentives for student-faculty
contact that are equally inappropriate.
For these reasons, any sexual relations between a teacher and a student during the period of the teacher/student relationship are prohibited. The
prohibition extends to sexual relations between a graduate or professional student and an undergraduate when the graduate or professional student has
some supervisory academic responsibility for the undergraduate, to sexual relations between department chairs and students in that department, and
to sexual relations between graduate group chairs and students in that graduate group. In addition, it includes sexual relations between academic
advisors, program directors, and all others who have supervisory academic responsibility for a student, and that student. Teachers and academic
supervisors who are sexually involved with students must decline to participate in any evaluative or supervisory academic activity with respect to those
The Provost, Deans, Department Chairs and other administrators should respond to reports of prohibited sexual relations that are brought to them
by inquiring further and, if such reports appear to be accurate, initiating appropriate disciplinary action or remedial measures against the teacher or
This policy supplements the University's policy on Sexual Harassment. In addition, although this policy prohibits consensual sexual relations only
between a teacher/supervisor and that individual's student, the University strongly discourages any sexual relations between members of the faculty
(or administration) and undergraduates.
Volume 43 Number 11
November 5, 1996
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