Dear Penn Faculty, Students and Staff:
The University is committed to maintaining a productive, civil and respectful
learning, working and living environment for all faculty, students, staff,
and visitors. Trust and civility are cornerstones of our community, and
the University cannot tolerate any behaviors or actions that violate these
essential elements. The University has emphatically articulated in many
written and verbal statements that sexual harassment will not be tolerated
at Penn. As a premier educational institution and employer, the University
is committed to eradicating sexual harassment, and the University continues
to undertake various efforts to address this issue in our community. Some
of these measures include:
Providing Information, Counseling, and Support. The University resources
that offer information, counseling, and support about the University's
Sexual Harassment Policy are listed in the Sexual Harassment Policy printed
below. Deans, chairs, directors, administrative unit heads, managers, and
supervisors should provide information to their respective faculty, staff,
and students about the policy.
and Training. Penn provides training and education to students, faculty,
and staff on sexual harassment issues. Deans, department chairs, and heads
of administrative units are encouraged to discuss the policy and issues
of sexual harassment with faculty and staff and provide additional educational
opportunities as needed. Students receive information about sexual harassment
via numerous avenues including residential advisors, house deans, and programs
sponsored by Penn departments. The Office of Affirmative Action and Equal
Opportunity, the Division of Human Resources, and the Penn Women's Center
are some of the resources available to provide training and education to
Addressing and Resolving Complaints. There are many informal and formal
mechanisms available to faculty, staff, and students to address complaints
of sexual harassment. All members of the Penn community are encouraged
to use the resources listed in the policy to address allegations of sexual
harassment. We take all allegations of sexual harassment very seriously
and will take appropriate actions to address them.
Maintaining our status as a premier research and educational institution
and an employer of choice depends on valuing the contributions and diversity
of all members of our Penn family. We encourage all members of our community
to increase their understanding and awareness of issues of sexual harassment
and continue to undertake efforts to strengthen civility and respect for
all members of our community.
- Judith Rodin
- Robert L. Barchi
- John A. Fry
- Executive Vice President
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
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
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.
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
- 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 respondents.
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 Office of
Student Conduct, 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
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
- 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 appropriate action.
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.
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.
Almanac, Vol. 45, No. 20, February 9, 1999
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ISSUES | FEBRUARY at PENN