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What You Should Know About Discrimination, Harassment and Sexual Harassment

October 16, 2006

Policy and Guidelines For the Northwestern Community 2006-07

Policy on Discrimination and Harassment
Northwestern University does not discriminate or permit discrimination by any member of its community against any individual on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, parental status, marital status, age, disability, citizenship, or veteran status in matters of admissions, employment, housing, or services or in the educational programs or activities it operates.

Harassment, whether verbal, physical, or visual, that is based on any of these characteristics is a form of discrimination. This includes harassing conduct affecting tangible job benefits, interfering unreasonably with an individual's academic or work performance, or creating what a reasonable person would sense is an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment.

While Northwestern University is committed to the principles of free inquiry and free expression, discrimination and harassment identified in this policy are neither legally protected expression nor the proper exercise of academic freedom.

Examples of discrimination and harassment may include

• Demoting, terminating, or refusing to hire or promote someone because of the person's protected status

• Jokes or epithets about a person's protected status

• Teasing or practical jokes directed at a person based on his or her protected status

•  Displaying or circulating written materials or pictures that degrade a person or group

•  Verbal abuse or insults about, directed at, or made in the presence of an individual or group of individuals in a protected group

Policy on Sexual Harassment
It is the policy of Northwestern University that no male or female member of the Northwestern community - students, faculty, administrators, or staff - may sexually harass any other member of the community. Sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute harassment when any of the following occurs:

•  Submission to such conduct is made or threatened to be made, either explicitly or implicitly, a term or condition of an individual's employment or education.

•  Submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used or threatened to be used as the basis for academic or employment decisions affecting that individual.

•  Such conduct has the purpose or effect of substantially interfering with an individual's academic or professional performance or creating what a reasonable person would sense is an intimidating, hostile, or offensive employment, educational, or living environment.

Examples of sexual harassment may include

•  Pressure for a dating, romantic, or intimate relationship

•  Unwelcome touching, patting, kissing, or hugging

•  Pressure for or forced sexual activity

•  Unnecessary and unwelcome references to various parts of the body

•  Belittling remarks about a person's gender or sexual orientation

•  Obscene gestures; inappropriate sexual innuendoes or humor; offensive sexual graffiti, pictures, or posters

•  E-mail and Internet use that violates this policy

Additional Guidance

Investigation and confidentiality
All reports describing conduct that is inconsistent with these policies will be promptly and thoroughly investigated. Complaints about violations of these policies will be handled confidentially, with facts made available only to those who need to know to investigate and resolve the matter.

The University prohibits retaliation against anyone for registering a complaint pursuant to these policies, assisting another in making a complaint, or participating in an investigation under the policies. Anyone experiencing any conduct that he or she believes to be retaliatory should immediately report it to one of the individuals listed at right under “Where to Get Advice and Help.”

If a complaint of discrimination, harassment, or sexual harassment is found to be substantiated, appropriate corrective action will follow, up to and including separation of the offending party from the University, consistent with University procedure.

Your responsibilities
All members of the University community are responsible for creating a working, learning, and living environment that is free of discrimination and harassment, including sexual harassment. It is important to contact one of the individuals listed at right if any of the following occurs:

•  You believe you've been subjected to conduct or comments that may violate these policies.

•  You believe you've been retaliated against in violation of these policies.

•  You hold a supervisory, managerial, or teaching position and have been told about or witnessed conduct that you think may violate these policies.

Vendors, contractors, and third parties
The University's policies on discrimination, harassment, and sexual harassment apply to the conduct of vendors, contractors, and third parties. If a member of the University community believes that he or she has been subjected to conduct by a vendor, contractor, or third party that violates these policies, the community member should contact one of the individuals listed at right. The University will respond as appropriate, given the nature of its relationship to the vendor, contractor, or third party.

Academic freedom
Northwestern University is committed to the principles of free inquiry and free expression - to providing an environment that encourages the exploration and exchange of ideas. The University's discrimination and harassment policies are not intended to stifle this freedom, nor will they be permitted to do so. Prohibited discrimination and harassment, however, are neither legally protected expression nor the proper exercise of academic freedom; and such conduct is incompatible with the values of the University.

Where to Get Advice and Help
The following people will take complaints of discrimination, harassment, or sexual harassment; explain complaint procedures; answer questions; and take appropriate action:

Office of Equal Employment Opportunity, Affirmative Action, and Disability Services
(discrimination and harassment complaints)
Pamela Pirtle, Director
720 University Place, Evanston

University Sexual Harassment Prevention Office
(sexual harassment complaints)
Nora FitzGerald Meldrum, Director
633 Clark Street, Room 2-636, Evanston

Division of Student Affairs
(all student-to-student incidents)
Mary Desler, Associate Vice President
Scott Hall, Room 36, Evanston

Discrimination and Harassment Prevention Advisers
In addition to the people listed above, each school or unit of the University has advisers on the faculty or staff who have been trained to answer questions about the University's discrimination and harassment policies and to receive complaints. To find an adviser, consult www.northwestern.edu/sexual-harassment/advisers.

Confidential Counselors
If you wish to speak with someone who is legally privileged to keep communications confidential, you may contact a confidential counselor. For the confidential counselor privilege to apply, a complainant must have initiated the discussion for the purpose of seeking confidential counseling, and the discussion must be conducted confidentially. After consulting with a confidential counselor, a complainant may decide to take no further action; such a decision is completely at the complainant's discretion. Seeking advice from a confidential counselor does not constitute reporting an incident. To find a confidential counselor, consult www.northwestern.edu/sexual-harassment.

EthicsPoint provides another means of reporting discrimination, harassment, and sexual harassment. Any complaints reported via EthicsPoint will be reviewed in acccordance with current University procedures. You may file a report by phone at 866-294-3545 or online at www.northwestern.edu/ethics.

Topics: University News