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What is Sexual Harassment?


What are the main characteristics of sexual harassment? Sexual harassment is an incident in which:

  • the behavior is unwanted or unwelcome, or
  • the behavior is sexual or related to the sex or gender of the individual, or
  • the behavior occurs in the context of a relationship where one person has more formal (i.e., supervisor vs. employee, faculty vs. student, GSI vs. student) or informal (i.e. peer) power than the other.


Sexual harassment is defined by law and includes requests for sexual favors, sexual advances, or other sexual conduct when any of the following is true:

  • submission is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of a person's employment or academic advancement, or
  • submission to or rejection of such conduct is used as a condition affecting academic or employment decisions, or
  • the conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with a person's ability to work or perform academically, creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working, learning, or social environment.


The University considers such behavior, whether physical or verbal, to be a breach of its standards of conduct and will seek to prevent such incidents and take corrective action when sexual harassment occurs.

Generally speaking, there are two types of sexual harassment: quid pro quo and hostile environment.