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Appendix D. Policy on Sexual Harassment and Sexual Misconduct
General Policy Guidelines
- Policy Statement
It is the policy of the University of Texas at Austin to provide an educational and working environment for its students, faculty, and staff that is free from sexual harassment and sexual misconduct. Sexual harassment and sexual misconduct in any form will not be tolerated, and individuals who engage in such conduct will be subject to disciplinary action. The University encourages students, faculty, staff, and visitors to promptly report sexual harassment or sexual misconduct.
This policy applies to the conduct of all students, faculty, and staff of, and visitors to, the University of Texas at Austin.
Sexual harassment. Sexual harassment is a form of gender discrimination that can occur when:
- the submission to unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual's employment or education;
- the submission or rejection of unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature is used as a basis for academic or employment decisions or evaluations; or
- unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature have the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual's academic or work performance or of creating an intimidating or hostile academic or work environment.
Behaviors that may constitute sexual harassment include but are not limited to:
- Intentional touching;
- Explicit or implicit propositions to engage in sexual activity;
- Gratuitous comments of a sexual nature such as explicit statements, questions, jokes, or anecdotes; remarks of a sexual nature about a person's clothing or body;
- Remarks about sexual activities or speculation about sexual experiences;
- Exposure to gratuitous sexually suggestive visual displays such as photographs, graffiti, posters, calendars, or other materials;
- Deliberate physical interference with or restriction of an individual's movements;
- Persistent, unwanted sexual/romantic attention;
- Subtle or overt pressure for sexual favors; or
- Deliberate, repeated humiliation or intimidation based upon the sex of the individual.
Sexual misconduct. In addition to prohibiting sexual harassment as defined by law, the University also prohibits conduct of a sexual nature that, although not so serious or pervasive that it rises to the level of sexual harassment, is unprofessional and/or inappropriate for work sites and teaching locations.
Behaviors that may constitute sexual misconduct include but are not limited to:
- failure to observe the appropriate boundaries of the supervisor/subordinate or faculty/student relationship;
- repeatedly engaging in sexually oriented conversations, comments, or horseplay, including the use of language or the telling of jokes or anecdotes of a sexual nature in the workplace, office, or classroom, even if such conduct is not objected to by those present; and
- gratuitous use of sexually oriented materials not directly related to the subject matter of a class, course, or meeting even if not objected to by those present.
Participation of a supervisor, teacher, adviser, or coach in a consensual romantic or sexual relationship with a subordinate employee or student in all cases creates a prohibited conflict of interest that must be addressed under the policy on consensual relationships (see Handbook of Operating Procedures, Policy Number 4.A.2.).
A member of, or visitor to, the University community who believes that he or she has been subjected to sexual harassment or sexual misconduct should report the incident to any University official, administrator, or supervisor. Students are encouraged to report such incidents to the Office of the Dean of Students; employees and campus visitors are encouraged to report to Equal Opportunity Services. Complainants should report such incidents as soon as possible after the time of their occurrence.
No student, faculty or staff member, or visitor is required to report or make a complaint of sexual harassment or sexual misconduct to the person who is the subject of the complaint.
Every supervisor, administrator, and University official is responsible for promptly reporting incidents of sexual harassment and sexual misconduct that come to their attention to either the Office of the Dean of Students, in the case of the student complaints, or to Equal Opportunity Services for all other complaints.
The Dean of Students or the Director of Equal Opportunity Services, as appropriate, shall determine in consultation with the Office of Legal Affairs, whether complaints of sexual harassment or sexual misconduct will be resolved on an informal or formal basis.
Informal resolution. Informal resolution is appropriate when the conduct complained of is not of a serious or repetitive nature and disciplinary action is not required to remedy the situation that is the subject of the complaint. No formal investigation is involved in the informal resolution process.
Methods of informal resolution
Methods for resolving complaints informally include, but are not limited to:
- helping the complainant understand the situation and resolution options available;
- coaching a complainant on how to directly address an alleged offender;
- mediating the complaint with the parties;
- aiding in the modification of the situation in which the offensive conduct occurred;
- assisting a department or division with the resolution of the problem that caused the complaint; or
- arranging a documented meeting between an appropriate University official and the alleged offender that involves, at a minimum, a discussion of the requirements of the Sexual Harassment and Sexual Misconduct Policy.
Time for resolution
When it is determined that informal resolution is appropriate, the Office of the Dean of Students or Equal Opportunity Services shall do so within thirty (30) days of the receipt of a complaint unless unusual circumstances require more time.
The University will maintain the confidentiality of the complaint and the identity of the complainant to the extent legally and ethically possible during the informal resolution process. The identity of the complainant may necessarily become apparent or be disclosed as a result of actions taken to resolve the complaint.
The University shall document the existence and resolution of informal complaints. Such documentation shall be retained by the Office of the Dean of Students or Equal Opportunity Services as appropriate and will be kept confidential to the extent permitted by law.
Switch to formal resolution
The University may institute a formal resolution process at any time during informal resolution that it determines that it is necessary or appropriate to do so.
Formal resolution. Formal resolution is appropriate when a complaint alleges serious sexual misconduct or a pattern of serious sexual harassment or sexual misconduct. It involves a formal investigation process and the possibility of the imposition of disciplinary action on the alleged offender.
Initiation of formal resolution process
The formal resolution process is initiated when it is determined that one is warranted; and a written, signed statement that describes in detail the offensive conduct that is the basis of the complaint is obtained from the complainant.
Complaints against students
The Dean of Students shall conduct formal investigations of complaints alleging sexual harassment or misconduct by students and resolve them pursuant to the Institutional Rules on Student Services and Activities (Chapter 11, Appendix C of this catalog).
Complaints against staff or faculty
Complaints of sexual harassment or sexual misconduct by University employees that warrant formal investigation shall be referred to the vice president with the responsibility for the unit in which the allegedly offending employee works. The appropriate vice president shall immediately appoint an investigator to initiate the investigation process.
- The investigator shall provide the alleged offender with a copy of the written complaint. The alleged offender shall have the opportunity to respond to the complaint in writing within ten (10) working days unless unusual circumstances require more time.
- The investigator shall interview both the complainant and the accused person and persons who are considered to have information related to the complaint. The investigator shall also gather and examine documents relevant to the complaint.
- The investigator will provide a statement of findings, copies of relevant documents, and any physical evidence considered to the appropriate vice president within thirty (30) working days of the initiation of the investigation unless unusual circumstances require more time.
- The appropriate vice president and the investigator shall meet within ten (10) working days to discuss the findings and review the record.
- Within fifteen (15) working days from that meeting, the vice president shall take one of the following actions: a) request further investigation into the complaint; b) find that the results of the completed investigation are inconclusive and dismiss the complaint; or c) find that this policy was violated. A decision that this policy was violated shall be made only upon the record provided by the investigator and shall be based on the totality of circumstances surrounding the conduct complained of, including but not limited to: the context of that conduct, its severity, frequency, whether it was physically threatening, humiliating, or was simply offensive in nature.
- If the vice president determines that this policy was violated, he or she, following consultation with the investigator or other knowledgeable persons as appropriate, shall determine a disciplinary action that is appropriate for the severity of the conduct. Disciplinary actions can include, but are not limited to, written reprimands, the imposition of conditions, reassignment, suspension without pay, and termination.
- The vice president shall inform the complainant and accused individual, and the appropriate unit head in writing of his or her decision, and shall attach a copy of the final statement of findings. Copies of the vice president's letter, the attached statement of findings, and relevant documents shall also be sent to the Office of the Dean of Students or Equal Opportunity Services as appropriate.
Documentation and confidentiality
The University shall maintain documents related to formally resolved complaints as required by law. The confidentiality of such documents will be maintained to the extent permitted by law.
- The Office of the Dean of Students shall be primarily responsible for records related to complaints that involve students.
- The Office of Equal Opportunity Services shall be primarily responsible for records related to complaints that involve employees and visitors.
Grievance of a Disciplinary Action
- Any employee disciplined pursuant to this policy, except faculty, teaching assistants, assistant instructors, or members of the University of Texas Police Department (each of whom are subject to separate procedures), may grieve that action by submitting a written grievance, within ten (10) working days of the imposition of the disciplinary action, to the president's office. Ordinarily, the president will assign responsibility for review and action on the appeal of the vice-president's action to another vice-president; however, when required by unusual circumstances, the president may review and handle a grievance pursuant to this policy.
- If the disciplinary action that is being grieved does not involve termination, demotion, or suspension without pay, the vice-president shall thoroughly review and finally decide the matter within thirty (30) calendar days of its receipt unless unusual circumstances require more time.
- If the disciplinary action that is being grieved involves the termination, demotion, or suspension without pay of an employee who is covered by § 9.49 of the Handbook of Operating Procedures (see policy in old HOP), the vice president who is assigned to review the grievance shall follow the procedures for appealing such actions contained in that section. Complainants will be required to appear and testify at hearings that may be a part of such proceedings.
A student, faculty, or staff member who retaliates in any way against an individual who has brought a complaint in good faith pursuant to this policy or participated in good faith in an investigation of such a complaint, is subject to disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal from the University.
Filing of False Complaints
Any person who knowingly and intentionally files a false complaint under this policy is subject to disciplinary action up to and including dismissal from the University.
Effect of Pending Personnel Actions
The filing of a sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, or retaliation complaint will not stop or delay any evaluation or disciplinary action related to the complainant who is not performing up to acceptable standards or who has violated University rules or policies.
For assistance: Questions regarding this policy should be directed to the Office of the Dean of Students or Equal Opportunity Services.