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Policy on Sexual Harassment

Policy on Sexual Harassment

Harassment harms the learning community
Academic freedom, creativity, professional achievement and personal development flourish in a healthy environment. Such an environment must be one in which all employees and students can pursue their work free from coercion, intimidation, and exploitation. Harassment is antithetical to the mission of the College and violations of this policy will result in disciplinary action up to and including expulsion or termination.

By law and SUNY policy, sexual harassment is defined as:
Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when:

  1. submission to such contact is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment or education
  2. submission or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment or educational decisions affecting the individuals
  3. such conduct has the purpose or effect of substantially interfering with an individual’s welfare, academic or work performance, or creating an intimidating, hostile or demeaning learning or work environment.

NOTE: Although the majority of incidents involve a man harassing a woman, the law also applies to women harassing men, women harassing women, and men harassing men. This policy applies equally to employees and students, male and female. Those who feel they have been victims of such discrimination should contact the Affirmative Action Officer or the Director of Human Resources. Pursuing a complaint on the campus does not rescind the right to file with an outside enforcement agency such as the State Division of Human Rights.

Sexual harassment may include, but is not limited to the following:

  1. subtle persistent pressure for sexual activity
  2. unnecessary touching, pinching, and/or brushing against a person
  3. sexual coercion or assault
  4. demanding sexual favors with implied or overt threats concerning work or academic decision or preferential treatment
  5. unwelcome verbal/expressive behavior of a sexual nature (e.g., jokes, sounds, obscene phone calls, demeaning graphic portrayals)
  6. stalking, cyberstalking, and failure to accept the termination of a consensual relationship with repeated overtures or other aberrant or negative behavior

Sexual harassment is a violation of the law and of SUNY policy[i]
Harassment on the basis of sex is a violation of New York State law and the Federal Civil Rights Act[ii]. The Governor’s Office has reaffirmed the law for State employees, and the SUNY Board of Trustees has affirmed the right of all students to be free from sexual harassment.


  1. Speak up - Say “No.” Say it firmly, without smiling, without making an apology. If you can, tell the person to stop. State clearly and firmly that you want a particular behavior to cease. This is not a time to be polite or vague. Explain why you are offended. Sometimes that is sufficient to clear the air.
  2. Keep a log. Write down what is happening to you. Include direct quotes, any witnesses, or patterns to the harassment. Save any letters, cards, or notes sent to you. Keep both the log and notes in a secure place, preferably at home.
  3. If the above approaches have not been successful, discuss the situation with the College officers listed below to find other informal means to a resolution.
  4. You may decide at any time to take formal action by filing a written complaint with the Affirmative Action Officer or the Director of Human Resources. Such complaints are taken seriously by the College and will result in formal action to eliminate the harassing behavior. Complaints made to the Affirmative Action Officer or the Director of Human Resources must be made in writing and must be brought within 90 days of the last incident to within 90 of the receipt of a grade.

Relationships with Students
One of the hallmarks of the Purchase experience for students is the opportunity to establish relationships with faculty and staff that extend beyond the classroom and office. These relationships help to provide an environment in which faculty and staff serve as role models and mentors, facilitating students’ intellectual and personal growth.

Trust and respect are diminished when those in positions of authority abuse, or appear to abuse their power. It is ethically wrong for faculty or staff to use their positions to exploit students. Voluntary consent by a student to a sexual relationship with faculty or staff is suspect, given the imbalance of power in such a relationship. Students involved in such relationships are at risk of exploitation. Faculty or staff involved in such relationships are creating potential conflicts of interest, personal liability to charges of sexual harassment, and interference with the welfare, academic, or work performance of others.

Sexual Orientation
The Governor’s Executive Order No 28 prohibits all state agencies from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation in the provision of any services or benefits by a state agency and in any matter relating to employment by the state.

  1. Sexual orientation is defined as heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality or asexuality; whether actual or perceived[iii].
  2. Harassment on the basis of sexual orientation is judged against the same criteria as those for sexual harassment, and protection applies to students, as well as to employees, to males as well as females.
  3. Complaints may be made to the Affirmative Action Officer or the Director of Human Resources. This does not rescind a person’s right to file a complaint with the Governor’s Office of Employee Relations.

The following people on campus are available to help you: 

Jerima DeWese
Affirmative Action/Chief Diversity Officer  and Title IX Coordinator
Purchase College
735 Anderson Hill Road
Purchase, NY 10577
(914) 251-5992

Director of Counseling—(914) 251-6390

Employee Assistance Program Coordinator—(914) 251-6098

Ombudsman—(914) 251-6520

You also have the right to contact off-campus agencies that have the responsibility of enforcing laws related to sexual harassment:

NYS Division of Human Rights—(914) 788-8050
8 John Walsh Blvd., Suite 204
Peekskill, NY 10566

Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission—(212) 366-3620
201 Varick Street, Room 1009
New York, NY 10014

Updated 10-26-2017

[i] On January 1, 2011, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo issued executive Order No. 2 reissuing Executive Order No. 19, which established State policy on sexual harassment in the workplace.

[ii] Section 703 of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended; Parts of the Civil Rights Law of 1991 and The NYS Human Rights Law

[iii] Human Rights Law §292.27