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:
- submission to such contact is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment or education
- submission or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment or educational decisions affecting the individuals
- 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:
- subtle persistent pressure for sexual activity
- unnecessary touching, pinching, and/or brushing against a person
- sexual coercion or assault
- demanding sexual favors with implied or overt threats concerning work or academic decision or preferential treatment
- unwelcome verbal/expressive behavior of a sexual nature (e.g., jokes, sounds, obscene phone calls, demeaning graphic portrayals)
- 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
Harassment on the basis of sex is a violation of New York State law and the Federal Civil Rights Act. 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.
What you can do if you feel you are subjected to sexual harassment:
- Say “No.” Say it firmly, without smiling, without making an apology.
- Keep a diary or 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.
- Deal with the situation immediately. Ignoring it will not make it go away. Indeed, it may worsen.
- Talk to the person involved, if you feel you can. Explain why you are offended. Sometimes that is sufficient to clear the air. You may want to bring someone with you for support.
- Ask: “How do you think your spouse, significant other, daughter or son would like being treated like this?”
- Tell the harasser, “That sounds like sexual harassment.”
- Write a letter to the person, especially if you feel direct confrontation is not possible or has not worked. If the person does not stop his or her behavior, you have a copy of your letter for further action. It should include (a) a short statement of the situation as you see it; (b) a description of your feelings and the damage that he or she has done; and (c) a short statement of behavior you would like to see.
- If the above approaches have not been successful, you may want to discuss the situation with the College officers listed below to find other informal means to a resolution.
- 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. Grievances 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.
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.
- Sexual orientation is defined as a private preference of an individual protected by Executive Order No. 28 for heterosexuality, homosexuality, or bisexuality; or a history of such preference; or an identification of having such a preference.
- 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.
- 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:
Affirmative Action/Chief Diversity Officer, Title IX Coordinator and ADA Compliance Officer (914) 251-5992
Counseling and Behavioral Health Services: Confidential help 24/7 at (914) 251-6390. M-F, students may also email the Campus Victim Advocate at email@example.com.
Employee Assistance Program Coordinator—(914) 251-6098
Student Services Building, Room 320
Student Services Building, Room 217
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