Forms of Sexual Harassment

In some cases, sexual harassment is obvious and may involve an overt action, threat, or reprisal. In other instances, sexual harassment is subtle and indirect, with a coercive aspect that is unstated. Some examples include the following:

  • Sexual harassment can occur between persons of equal power status (e.g., student to student, staff to staff) or between persons of unequal power status (e.g., faculty member to student, coach to student-athlete). Although sexual harassment often occurs in the context of the misuse of power by the individual with the greater power, a person who appears to have less or equal power in a relationship can also commit sexual harassment.
  • Sexual harassment can be committed by (or against) an individual or by (or against) an organization or group.
  • Sexual harassment can be committed by an acquaintance, a stranger, or people who shared a personal, intimate, or sexual relationship.
  • Sexual harassment can occur by or against an individual of any sex, gender identity, gender expression, or sexual orientation.

 Examples of behavior that might be considered sexual harassment include, but are not limited to:

  • Unwanted sexual innuendo, propositions, sexual attention, or suggestive comments and gestures; inappropriate humor about sex or gender-specific traits; sexual slurs or derogatory language directed at another person’s sexuality, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, or gender expression; insults and threats based on sex, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, or gender expression; and other oral, written, or electronic communications of a sexual nature that an individual communicates is unwanted and unwelcome.
  • Written graffiti or the display or distribution of sexually explicit drawings, pictures, or written materials; sexually charged name-calling; or the circulation, display, or creation of e- mails, text messages, or websites of a sexual nature.
  • Display or circulation of written materials or pictures degrading to an individual or gender group where such display is not directly related to academic freedom or to an educational/pedagogical, artistic, or work purpose.
  • Unwelcome physical contact or suggestive body language, such as touching, patting, pinching, hugging, kissing, or brushing against an individual’s body.
  • Physical coercion or pressure of an individual to engage in sexual activity or punishment for a refusal to respond or comply with sexual advances.
  • Use of a position of power or authority to: (1) threaten or punish, either directly or by implication, for refusing to tolerate harassment, for refusing to submit to sexual activity, or for reporting harassment; or (2) promise rewards in return for sexual favors.
  • Acts of verbal, nonverbal, or physical aggression, intimidation, or hostility based on sex or sex-stereotyping.