Sexual harassment can be as subtle as...
a look or as blatant as rape. It can occur within and beyond the classroom and workplace. Both men and women can be sexually harassed, although women are most often victims. Verbal harassment may include humor or jokes about women, sex or sexual orientation. Sexual harassment often occurs in situations where one person has power over another, but may also occur among peers.
Sexual harassment has been defined as...
". . . any unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors and other verbal and physical conduct of a sexual nature. . . it includes instances when such conduct is indicated to be a term or condition of an individual's decisions, interferes with an individual's academic or employment performance, or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive academic or employment environment."
The examples below are intended to illustrate sexual harassment behavior. They are drawn from actual cases.
- It was common practice in a professor's lectures during the first week of class to show a technical anatomical slide show that included unrelated slides of nude women taken from popular magazines. Complaints had been filed with the dean, but the practice had continued.
- Tanya, a sophomore, requested a meeting with her instructor to discuss a "D" she received on an essay exam. He told her that she could get an "A" if she'd just go to bed with him. He also tried to kiss her and put his arm around her waist. She didn't resist the physical advances at the time but refused to go to his apartment. He then changed her "D" to a failing grade.
- Margaret, a student doing work study, applied for and accepted a job in a departmental lab even though several of her friends had warned her about the harassment other women had experienced there. She saw the calendars of nude women in men's offices and heard sexual innuendoes being made about fellow female workers or students whenever she went to the employee lounge. Two weeks after she started her job, she saw a male supervisor grab a woman from behind and fondle her breasts. The woman struggled and ran from the room. Margaret filed a complaint.
It is all too common for someone accused of sexual harassment to say, "I didn't realize that she (or he) would be offended by that." All members of the UW-Whitewater community should become more knowledgeable about sexual harassment, and sensitive to the impact of their behavior on others. Members of the UW-Whitewater community who supervise others have a special responsibility in this regard. They must help create an environment that actively discourages behavior that could be viewed as sexual harassment. Everyone is encouraged to speak out when they see, hear of, or experience incidents of sexual harassment.
If you feel that you may be the victim of sexual harassment, talk to someone you trust about the situation. You may feel embarrassed, or worry that you did something to provoke the unwanted behavior, however, you have a right to pursue your education or perform your job in an environment free from this type of interference. Please contact the Title IX Coordinator at 472-5669 for assistance.