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Text of draft policy on sexual harassment

STANFORD -- This is the text of the draft policy on sexual harassment. Faculty, staff and students are invited to comment on the draft policy. Comments are due by Nov. 15 and should be sent to Jean Fetter, assistant to the president, at the President's Office, Building 10, mail code 2060, e-mail hk.jhf@forsythe.

Stanford University strives to provide a place of work and study free of sexual harassment, intimidation or exploitation. It is expected that students, faculty and staff will treat one another with respect.

All students, faculty and staff are subject to this policy. Individuals who violate this policy are subject to discipline up to and including discharge, expulsion or other appropriate sanction.

Reports of sexual harassment are taken seriously and will be dealt with promptly. The specific action taken in any particular case depends on the nature and gravity of the conduct reported, and may include intervention, mediation, investigation and the initiation of grievance and disciplinary processes as discussed more fully below. Where sexual harassment is found to have occurred, the University will act to stop the harassment, prevent its recurrence, discipline those responsible, and/or remedy the effects of the harassment on the individual who reported it and the affected academic, work or student residential environment. Individuals who violate this policy and/or their Schools also may be required to reimburse the University for any costs or expenses incurred as a result of wrongful behavior.

Confidentiality will be maintained to the extent reasonably possible, subject to the need to inform other faculty, staff and students when remedial actions are taken, and consistent with fairness to the individuals involved. Examples of situations where confidentiality cannot be maintained include circumstances when the University is required by law to disclose information (such as in response to legal process) and when disclosure is required by the University's outweighing interest in protecting the rights of others.

Reprisals against an individual who in good faith reports or provides information in an investigation about behavior that may violate this policy are against the law and will not be tolerated. Intentionally providing false information, however, is grounds for discipline.

Stanford is committed to the principles of free inquiry and free expression. Vigorous discussion and debate are fundamental to the University, and this policy is not intended to stifle legitimate teaching methods or freedom of expression generally, nor will it be permitted to do so. Sexual harassment, however, is neither legally protected expression nor the proper exercise of academic freedom; it compromises the integrity of the University, its tradition of intellectual freedom and the trust placed in its members.


Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other visual, verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when:

1. It is implicitly or explicitly suggested that submission to or rejection of the conduct will be a factor in academic or employment decisions or evaluations, or permission to participate in a University activity;


2. The conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual's academic or work performance or creating an intimidating or hostile academic, work or student living environment.

Determining what constitutes sexual harassment depends upon the specific facts and the context in which the conduct occurs. Sexual harassment may take many forms -- subtle and indirect, or blatant and overt.

For example,

  • It may be conduct toward an individual of the opposite sex or the same sex.
  • It may occur between peers or between individuals in a hierarchical relationship.
  • It may be conduct intended to harass, or conduct whose unintended but reasonably foreseeable effect is to cause harassment.
  • It may be aimed at coercing an individual to participate in an unwanted sexual relationship or it may have the effect of causing an individual to change behavior or work performance.
  • It may consist of repeated actions or may even arise from a single incident if sufficiently egregious.

The University's Policy on Sexual Assault (see Stanford Administrative Guide Memo 23.3) may also apply when sexual harassment involves physical contact.


The following are the primary methods for dealing with sexual harassment at Stanford. They are not required to be followed in any specific order, however, early informal methods are often effective in correcting questionable behavior.


Consultation about sexual harassment is available from the Sexual Harassment Advisers, human resources personnel, counselors at CAPS or the Help Center, Chaplains at Memorial Church, ombudspersons and others. A current list of Sexual Harassment Advisers is available from the Office of the Sexual Harassment Coordinating Adviser, 900 Welch Road, Suite 400, Palo Alto, CA 94304, (415) 327-8259. Consultation is available for anyone who wants to discuss issues related to sexual harassment, whether or not harassment actually has occurred, and whether the person seeking information is a complainant, a person who believes his or her own actions may be the subject of criticism (even if unwarranted), or a third party.

Often there is a desire that a consultation be confidential or off the record. This can usually be achieved when individuals discuss concerns about sexual harassment without identifying the other persons involved, and sometimes even without identifying themselves. Confidential consultations about sexual harassment also may be available from counselors at CAPS or the Help Center, Chaplains at Memorial Church, and University and Medical Center ombudspersons. In these latter cases, the level of confidentiality depends on what legal protections are held by specific persons receiving the information and should be addressed with them before specific facts are disclosed.

Direct Communication

An individual who has experienced harassment may want to handle the situation directly, by addressing the other party in person or writing a letter describing the unwelcome behavior and its effect and stating that the behavior must stop. A Sexual Harassment Adviser can help the individual plan what to say or write, and likewise can counsel persons who receive such communications. Reprisals against an individual who in good faith initiates such a communication would be in violation of this policy.

Third Party Intervention

Depending on the circumstances, third party intervention in the workplace, student residence or academic setting may be attempted. Third party intervenors may be the Sexual Harassment Advisers, human resources professionals, the ombudspersons, other faculty or staff, or sometimes mediators unrelated to the University.

When third party intervention is used, typically the third party will meet privately with each of the persons involved, try to clarify their perceptions and attempt to develop a mutually acceptable understanding that can insure that the parties are comfortable with their future interactions. Other processes, such as a mediated discussion among the parties or with a supervisor, may also be explored in appropriate cases.

Possible outcomes of third party intervention include explicit agreements about future conduct, changes in workplace assignments, substitution of one class for another, or other relief, where appropriate.

Formal Grievance and Disciplinary Processes

If it appears probable that this Policy on Sexual Harassment has been violated, grievance processes may be pursued.

Generally, a grievance seeks to redress an adverse employment or academic action affecting the individual bringing the charge.

The applicable grievance procedure depends on the circumstances and the status of the person bringing the charge and the person against whom the charge is brought. Generally, the process consists of the grievant's submission of a written statement, an investigation by a University representative, followed by a decision and, in some cases, the possibility of one or more appeals, usually to Stanford Administrative officers at higher levels. The relevant procedure (see below) should be read carefully, since the procedures vary considerably.

If the identified grievance officer has a conflict of interest, an alternate will be arranged, and the Sexual Harassment Coordinating Adviser can help assure that this occurs.

In most cases, grievances must be brought within a specified time after the action complained of. While informal resolution efforts will not automatically extend the time limits for filing a grievance, in appropriate circumstances the complainant and the other relevant parties may mutually agree in writing to extend the time for filing a grievance.

The following are the established grievance procedures; copies may be obtained from the Office of the Sexual Harassment Coordinating Adviser:

Nonacademic Staff Grievance Procedure (see Stanford Administrative Guide Memo 22.10)

Collective Bargaining Agreements for unit members

Academic Staff Grievance Procedure (see Research Policy Handbook)

Faculty Grievance Procedure (see Faculty Handbook and Stanford Administrative Guide Memo 21.4)

Student Academic Grievance Procedure (see Stanford University Bulletin, Information and Regulations Governing Student Conduct and Procedures for Their Enforcement)

Student Employee Grievance Procedure (see Stanford Administrative Guide Memo 24)

Student Nonacademic Grievance Procedure pursuant to Title IX (for additional information, consult the Director of the Office for Multicultural Development, who serves as the University's Title IX Officer)

In appropriate cases, disciplinary procedures may be pursued. The applicable disciplinary procedure depends on the status of the individual whose conduct is in question.

For example, faculty are subject to the Statement on Faculty Discipline and students to the Fundamental Standard.



If significant facts are contested, an investigation may be undertaken. The investigation will be conducted in a way that respects, to the extent possible, the privacy of all of the persons involved. In appropriate cases, professional investigators may be asked to assist in the investigation. The results of the investigation may be used in the third party intervention process or in a grievance or disciplinary action.


The Sexual Harassment Coordinating Adviser will track sexual harassment cases for statistical reporting purposes and report at least annually to the University President concerning their number, nature and disposition.

In the other instances (third party intervention, grievances and disciplinary actions), the Sexual Harassment Coordinating Adviser may keep confidential records of reports of sexual harassment and the actions taken in response to those reports, and use them to identify individuals or Departments likely to benefit from training so that training priorities can be established. No records will be maintained in cases where the individual accused has not been informed that there is a complaint.


Anyone who has been sexually harassed should contact the Sexual Harassment Coordinating Adviser, a Sexual Harassment Adviser or one of the other individuals listed below. Reports should be made as soon as possible: the earlier the report, the easier it is to investigate and take appropriate remedial action. When reports are long delayed, the University will try to act to the extent it is reasonable to do so, but it may be impossible to achieve a satisfactory result after much time has passed.

Likewise, anyone who receives a report or a grievance involving sexual harassment should promptly consult with a Sexual Harassment Adviser.

There are a number of individuals specially trained and charged with specific responsibilities in the area of sexual harassment. In brief:

Sexual Harassment Advisers serve as resources to individuals who wish to discuss issues of sexual harassment, whether because they have been harassed or because they want information about the University's policy and procedures. There is usually at least one Adviser assigned to each of the schools at the University and to each large work unit.

The Sexual Harassment Coordinating Adviser is responsible for the implementation of this policy; provides advice to individuals when requested; supervises the other Advisers; encourages and assists prevention education for students, faculty and staff; keeps records showing the disposition of complaints; and generally coordinates matters arising under this policy. Because education and awareness are the best ways to prevent sexual harassment, developing awareness, education and training programs and publishing informational material are among the most important functions of the Sexual Harassment Coordinating Adviser.

As indicated earlier, individuals with concerns about sexual harassment may also discuss their concerns informally with psychological counselors (for example through CAPS or the HELP Center), chaplains (through the Memorial Chapel), or University or Medical School ombudspersons.

External Reporting

Sexual harassment is prohibited by state and federal law. In addition to the internal resources described above, individuals may pursue complaints directly with the government agencies that deal with unlawful harassment and discrimination claims, e.g., the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) of the U.S. Department of Education, and the State of California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH). These agencies are listed in the Government section of the telephone book.


Persons who supervise or evaluate the work of others, both in academic and employment settings, must base their decisions on merit. To be effective, they must be perceived to make their decisions fairly and without favoritism. There are special risks in any sexual or romantic relationship between individuals in inherently unequal positions (such as teacher and student, supervisor and employee, or student resident and the individual who supervises the day to day student living environment). Parties in such a relationship assume those risks. Such relationships may undermine the real or perceived integrity of the supervision and evaluation provided, and the trust inherent particularly in the student-faculty relationship. They may, moreover, be less consensual than the individual whose position confers power believes. The relationship is likely to be perceived in different ways by each of the parties to it, especially in retrospect.

Relationships in which one party is in a position to review the work or influence the career of the other may provide grounds for complaint when that relationship gives undue access or advantage, restricts opportunities, or creates a hostile and unacceptable environment for others. Furthermore, circumstances may change, and conduct that was previously welcome may become unwelcome. Even when both parties have consented at the outset to a romantic involvement, this past consent does not remove grounds for a charge based upon subsequent unwelcome conduct.


This policy went into effect on October 6, 1993, and was amended on ??

It is subject to periodic review, and any comments or suggestions should be forwarded to the Sexual Harassment Coordinating Adviser.


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