OF RECORD


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, consistent with this, sexual harassment will not be tolerated at Penn. As a premier educational institution and employer, the University is committed to eradicating sexual harassment and 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 Policy reprinted below. Deans, chairs, directors, administrative unit heads, managers, and supervisors should provide information to their respective faculty, staff, and students about the policy.

Providing Education 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. Similarly, students should receive information about sexual harassment from residential advisors and house deans. The Office of Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity Programs, the Division of Human Resources, and the Penn Women's Center are some of the resources available to provide training and education to the community.

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, President   --Robert Barchi, Provost  --John Fry, Executive Vice President 

Sexual Harassment Policy

I. Conduct

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 mission.

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:

  1. Involves a stated or implicit threat to the victim's academic or employment status;
  2. Has the purpose or effect of interfering with an individual's academic or work performance; and/or,
  3. 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 and advocacy.

III. Resources

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 and Equal Opportunity Programs
  • African American Resource Center
  • Penn-Friends Employee Assistance Program
  • Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Center
  • Office of Labor Relations
  • Office of the Ombudsman
  • Office of Staff Relations
  • Special 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:

  1. 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).
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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 program.

  1. 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.
  2. Deans and heads of major administrative units are encouraged to discuss this policy and issues of sexual harassment at meetings of faculty and staff.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

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.


Almanac, Vol. 47, No. 4, September 19, 2000

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