Legal Information

Statement on Sexual Harassment

1. Harassment on the basis of sex is a form of illegal sex discrimination. Sexual harassment in employment violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as well as state law. Student-on-student sexual harassment and sexual harassment directed toward a student by a University employee violates Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.

2. Ball State University will not tolerate sexual harassment of students or employees by members of its faculty or staff, its students or by other agents of the University and will respond in a suitable manner to every complaint.

3. The University has adapted the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) definition of sexual harassment for our academic community: Sexual harassment is defined as any unwelcome sexual advance, request for sexual favor or other unwelcome verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature, whether committed on or off campus, when: 

3.1 submission to such conduct is made, either explicitly or implicitly, a term or condition of an individual’s employment or participation in a University-sponsored education program or activity;

3.2 submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis or threatened to be used as the basis for employment decisions or academic decisions or assessments affecting an individual; or

3.3 such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work or academic performance or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive working or educational environment. Such conduct will typically be directed against a particular individual or individuals and will either be abusive or severely humiliating or will persist despite the objection of the person targeted by the speech or conduct.

Sexual harassment includes but is not limited to situations where one person has authority over another. In such situations, sexual harassment is particularly serious because it may unfairly exploit the power inherent in a faculty member’s or supervisor’s position.

4. Sexual harassment can be verbal, visual, physical or communicated in writing or electronically. Some conduct obviously constitutes sexual harassment – such as a threat that a grade or promotion will depend on submission to sexual advance. But whether particular conduct constitutes sexual harassment will often depend upon the specific context of the situation, including the participants’ reasonable understanding of the situation, their past dealings with each other, the nature of their professional relationship (e.g., supervisor-subordinate, colleague, etc.) and the specific setting.

The inquiry can be particularly complex in an academic community, where the free and open exchange of ideas and viewpoints preserved by the concept of academic freedom may sometimes prove distasteful, disturbing or offensive to some. Sexual harassment must be distinguished from behavior which, even though unpleasant or disconcerting, is appropriate to the carrying out of instructional, advisory, or supervisory responsibilities. Instructional responsibilities, in particular, require appropriate latitude for pedagogical decisions concerning the topics discussed and methods used to draw students into discussion and full participation.

5. Examples of conduct which may constitute sexual harassment include but are not limited to:

5.1 requests for sexual favors;

5.2 unwelcome physical contact such as hugging, rubbing, touching, patting, pinching or brushing another’s body;

5.3 veiled suggestions of sexual activities;

5.4 requests for private meetings outside of class or business hours for other than legitimate academic or business-related purposes;

5.5 use in the classroom of sexual jokes, stories or images in no way germane to the subject of the class;

5.6 use in the workplace of sexual jokes, stories or images in no way germane to the subject of the work environment;

5.7 remarks about a person’s body or sexual relationships, activities or experience that are in no way germane to the subject of the work or academic environment;

5.8 use of inappropriate body images to advertise events.

6. Members of the University community can expect to be free from sexual harassment and thus all members of the University community should guard against it. The fact that someone did not intend to sexually harass an individual is generally not considered a sufficient defense to a complaint of sexual harassment, although the reasonableness of the accused’s perceptions may be considered. In most cases, it is the effect and characteristics of the behavior on the complainant and whether a reasonable person similarly situated would find the conduct offensive that determine whether the behavior constitutes sexual harassment.

7. The University will not tolerate retaliation or discrimination against persons who report or charge sexual harassment or against those who testify, assist or participate in any investigation, proceeding or hearing involving a complaint of sexual harassment. In this context, retaliation means speech or conduct that adversely affects another’s terms or conditions of employment or education and is motivated by an intent to harm the targeted person because of his or her participation in the filing or investigation of an allegation of sexual harassment. Any such retaliation – or encouragement of another to retaliate – is a serious violation of University policy and law, independent of whether the particular claim of sexual harassment is substantiated. Anyone who believes he or she has been subjected to retaliation in violation of this rule may use the procedures described in this policy to complain and seek redress.

8. Any member of the University community who believes he or she is being sexually harassed or is being retaliated against is encouraged to contact the Office University Compliance and make a complaint. The complaint will be investigated in accordance with the “Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action Complaint Investigation Procedure and Appeal Process.” A copy of this document may be obtained by contacting the Office of University Compliance.

9. The University can respond to specific instances and allegations of harassment only if it is aware of them. The University therefore encourages anyone who believes that he or she has experienced sexual harassment to come promptly forward (typically within 45 calendar days) with inquiries, reports or complaints and to seek assistance from the Office of University Compliance. In addition, any University employee who becomes aware of instances or allegations of sexual harassment by or against a person under his or her supervisory authority must report them to the Office of University Compliance. It shall be the responsibility of the Office of University Compliance to respond to allegations and reports of sexual harassment or refer them to other University officials for an appropriate response.

10. Any dean, chairperson, director or department head or other similar administrator who becomes aware of information indicating a significant likelihood of sexual harassment must report such information to the Office of University Compliance. These administrators must respond not only when they receive a specific complaint or report alleging improper activity, but also when such matters come to their attention informally. Unconfirmed or disputed allegations should be clearly labeled as such and reports should indicate any steps already taken to respond. Administrators should consult the Office of University Compliance prior to responding to any situation involving alleged harassment.

11. Possible sanctions for a person found engaging in behavior which is in violation of this policy include but are not limited to the following:

11.1 oral or written reprimand, placed in personnel file;

11.2 required attendance at a sexual harassment sensitivity program;

11.3 an apology to the victim;

11.4 loss of salary or benefit, such as sabbatical or research or travel funding;

11.5 transfer or change of job, class or residential assignment or location (i.e., removing the person from being in a position to retaliate or further harass the victim);

11.6 demotion;

11.7 suspension, probation, termination, dismissal or expulsion.

While counseling is not considered a sanction, it may be offered or required in combination with sanctions. Where alcohol/drugs are involved in the sexual harassment, such counseling may include a substance abuse program.

If students or student groups are guilty of sexual harassment, any of the sanctions set forth in the “Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities” may also be invoked.

12. The University seeks to protect the rights of all persons, accusers and accused, to fair procedures. Accusations of sexual harassment frequently have injurious, far-reaching effects on the careers and lives of accused individuals. Allegations of sexual harassment must be made in good faith and not out of malice. Knowingly making a false or frivolous allegation of sexual harassment will be considered a serious violation of University policy.

Approved by the Board of Trustees December 17, 1999. Revised 8/02.