Sexual & Gender-Based Harassment

HGSE Title IX Resources

Definitions: Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature, including unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal, nonverbal, graphic, or physical conduct of a sexual nature, when: (1) submission to or rejection of such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a condition of an individual’s employment or academic standing or is used as the basis for employment decisions or for academic evaluation, grades, or advancement (quid pro quo); or (2) such conduct is sufficiently severe, persistent, or pervasive that it interferes with or limits a person’s ability to participate in or benefit from the University’s education or work programs or activities (hostile environment).

Quid pro quo sexual harassment can occur whether a person resists and suffers the threatened harm, or the person submits and avoids the threatened harm. Both situations could constitute discrimination on the basis of sex.

A hostile environment can be created by persistent or pervasive conduct or by a single severe episode. The more severe the conduct, the less need there is to show a repetitive series of incidents to prove a hostile environment. Sexual violence, including rape, sexual assault, and domestic and dating violence, is a form of sexual harassment. In addition, the following conduct may violate this Policy:

  • Observing, photographing, videotaping, or making other visual or auditory records of sexual activity or nudity, where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy, without the knowledge and consent of all parties
  • Sharing visual or auditory records of sexual activity or nudity without the knowledge and consent of all recorded parties and recipient(s)
  • Sexual advances, whether or not they involve physical touching
  • Commenting about or inappropriately touching an individual’s body
  • Requests for sexual favors in exchange for actual or promised job benefits, such as favorable reviews, salary increases, promotions, increased benefits, or continued employment
  • Lewd or sexually suggestive comments, jokes, innuendos, or gestures
  • Stalking

Other verbal, nonverbal, graphic, or physical conduct may create a hostile environment if the conduct is sufficiently persistent, pervasive, or severe so as to deny a person equal access to the University’s programs or activities. Whether the conduct creates a hostile environment may depend on a variety of factors, including: the degree to which the conduct affected one or more person’s education or employment; the type, frequency, and duration of the conduct; the relationship between the parties; the number of people involved; and the context in which the conduct occurred.

Definitions: Unwanted Conduct

Conduct is unwelcome if a person (1) did not request or invite it and (2) regarded the unrequested or uninvited conduct as undesirable or offensive. That a person welcomes some sexual contact does not necessarily mean that person welcomes other sexual contact. Similarly, that a person willingly participates in conduct on one occasion does not necessarily mean that the same conduct is welcome on a subsequent occasion.

Whether conduct is unwelcome is determined based on the totality of the circumstances, including various objective and subjective factors. The following types of information may be helpful in making that determination: statements by any witnesses to the alleged incident; information about the relative credibility of the parties and witnesses; the detail and consistency of each person’s account; the absence of corroborating information where it should logically exist; information that the Respondent has been found to have harassed others; information that the Complainant has been found to have made false allegations against others; information about the Complainant’s reaction or behavior after the alleged incident; and information about any actions the parties took immediately following the incident, including reporting the matter to others.

In addition, when a person is so impaired or incapacitated as to be incapable of requesting or inviting the conduct, conduct of a sexual nature is deemed unwelcome, provided that the Respondent knew or reasonably should have known of the person’s impairment or incapacity. The person may be impaired or incapacitated as a result of drugs or alcohol or for some other reason, such as sleep or unconsciousness. A Respondent’s impairment at the time of the incident as a result of drugs or alcohol does not, however, diminish the Respondent’s responsibility for sexual or gender-based harassment under this Policy.

Definitions: Gender-Based and Sexual Orientation Harassment

Gender-based harassment is verbal, nonverbal, graphic, or physical aggression, intimidation, or hostile conduct based on sex, sex-stereotyping, sexual orientation or gender identity, but not involving conduct of a sexual nature, when such conduct is sufficiently severe, persistent, or pervasive that it interferes with or limits a person’s ability to participate in or benefit from the University’s education or work programs or activities. For example, persistent disparagement of a person based on a perceived lack of stereotypical masculinity or femininity or exclusion from an activity based on sexual orientation or gender identity also may violate this Policy.

Campus Resources: Confidential Resources

The following resources maintain strict standards of confidentiality to help you think through situations and options:

Office of Sexual Assault Prevention & Response

24-Hour Hotline: 617.495.9100
Drop-Ins: Monday through Friday, 9-5 in the Smith Campus Center, 731

Harvard University Mental Health Services

Phone: 617.495.2042
Smith Campus Center, 4th Floor

Harvard University Health Services

Phone: 617.495.5711
Smith Campus Center

Harvard Chaplains

The Harvard Chaplains, representing many of the world's traditions, serve the Harvard community. Many opportunities exist for worship, prayer, study, private talks, and in some cases, counseling.
Phone: 617.495.5529
Email: chaplains@harvard.edu

Campus Resources: Private Resources

The following resources will maintain privacy, but may not be able to maintain complete confidentiality:

HGSE Title IX Officers

Tracie Jones, Title IX Coordinator for Students 
Phone: 617.384.7469
Email: tracie_jones@gse.harvard.edu

Kevin Boehm, Title IX Coordinator for Students 
Phone: 617.384.7490
Email: kevin_boehm@gse.harvard.edu

Kelly DeLiberato, Title IX Coordinator for Staff 
Phone: 617.496.6432
Email: kelly_deliberato@gse.harvard.edu

Jessica Pesce, Title IX Coordinator for Faculty 
Phone: 617.496.2077
Email: jessica_pesce@gse.harvard.edu

Harvard University Title IX Officer

Nicole Merhill
Phone: 617.496.2470
Email: nicole_merhill@harvard.edu

Reporting Options: Harvard Staff & Offices

HGSE Title IX Coordinators

Tracie Jones, Title IX Coordinator for Students 
Phone: 617.384.7469
Email: tracie_jones@gse.harvard.edu

Kevin Boehm, Title IX Coordinator for Students 
Phone: 617.384.7490
Email: kevin_boehm@gse.harvard.edu

Kelly DeLiberato, Title IX Coordinator for Staff 
Phone: 617.496.6432
Email: kelly_deliberato@gse.harvard.edu

Jessica Pesce, Title IX Coordinator for Faculty 
Phone: 617.496.2077
Email: jessica_pesce@gse.harvard.edu

Harvard University Title IX Officer

Nicole Merhill
Phone: 617.496.2470
Email: nicole_merhill@harvard.edu

Office of Dispute Resolution

William McCants, Director
Phone: 617.495.3786
Email: odr@harvard.edu

Reporting Options: Harvard University Police Department

Reporting Options: Cambridge Police

Sexual Assault Hotline: 617.349.3381
125 6th Street

Help a Friend

Listening Skills and Helpful Things to Say

  • Listen. This is most important!
  • Be non-judgmental. Don’t criticize your friend’s decisions or actions
  • Believe them. Survivors of violence need to validate their experience
  • Don’t blame the survivor. No one deserves to be sexually assaulted, abused, or stalked, and it was not the survivors fault
  • Let the survivor control the situation. Offer options, but let the survivor make their own decisions. Don’t touch or hug them unless they say it’s OK
  • Don’t be afraid to get outside help. Offer to help your friend report the violence to campus authorities if they have not already done so, but let it be their decision. Call for help if your friend is in immediate danger.
  • Help your friend access resources. Don’t try to be their only source of support. You might suggest they seek counseling, medical attention, or other resources, especially is they seem to be in distress.