Passed by the faculty on March 8, 1993
Reed College is committed to creating and maintaining a community in which students, faculty, and staff can work, live, and learn together in an environment free of sexual harassment.
Membership in this community, as governed by the honor principle, imposes on students, faculty, and staff an obligation to respect the dignity and autonomy of others, to treat one another civilly and without regard to factors irrelevant to participation in the life of the college. These obligations derive from the necessity to protect both individuals and academic freedom. The college can fulfill its distinctive mission only in an arena where ideas are vigorously debated, including those which some find offensive, and in an arena where staff, students, and faculty respect one another's dignity in their common membership in a community of inquiry. We must take great care neither to stifle discussion nor to make it dangerous to speak one's mind. Community members are reminded by the preamble to the community constitution of the interrelationship between academic freedom and honorable conduct, both of which are central values of the college:
"We declare our commitment to responsible and honorable conduct in academic and community affairs, and we reaffirm one another's rights to freedom of inquiry and expression in course work, scholarship, and the day to day life of the Reed Community. Since such freedom requires an atmosphere of trust and mutual confidence, we further declare that dishonesty, intimidation, harassment, exploitation, and the use or threat of force are incompatible with the preservation of this freedom."
Sexual harassment compromises academic freedom and damages the trust that we must all repose in one another. Furthermore, sexual harassment is a violation of local, state, and federal law. Reed College will therefore take all necessary actions to prevent sexual harassment. In cases where sexual harassment has occurred, the college is prepared to issue sanctions and take the steps necessary to prevent its recurrence.
Sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, sexually directed remarks, or other conduct of a sexual nature constitute harassment when:
1. such conduct occurs under circumstances implying that one's response might affect academic or personnel decisions that are subject to the influence of the person engaging in the conduct; or
2. such conduct directed against an individual persists despite its rejection; or such conduct directed against an individual is unwelcome, and the person engaging in the conduct knew or should have known the conduct to be unwelcome; or
3. such conduct has the purpose or effect of substantially interfering with an individual's academic or work performance or is so pervasive or severe that it creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment.
Sexual harassment can take many forms. Some of these are overt and unambiguous, while others may be more subtle and indirect. Direct forms of sexual harassment, such as sexual assault, or sexual advances in an academic or employment context accompanied by an offer of reward or threats of reprisal, constitute serious misconduct. A single incident of such behavior establishes grounds for complaint. Other forms of sexual harassment include sexual advances, physical or verbal, that are repeated and unwanted. More subtle forms of behavior, such as innuendoes and jokes of a sexual nature, may constitute sexual harassment when they contribute to an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment.
The college prohibits sexual harassment. This prohibition includes peer harassment among students, faculty, or staff. Sexual harassment by a faculty member of a student, or by a supervisor of a staff member or student employee, is particularly serious.
No one at the college should reprimand, retaliate, or discriminate against an individual for rejecting sexual advances or for having initiated or participated in the resolution of an inquiry or complaint regarding sexual harassment.
When both parties have consented at the outset to a romantic or sexual involvement, such consent does not preclude a charge of sexual harassment for subsequent unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature.
Romantic or sexual relationships that might be appropriate in other contexts may, within the college community, create the appearance or fact of an abuse of power or of undue advantage.
Because those who teach are entrusted with guiding students, judging their work, giving grades for courses and papers, and recommending students, instructors are in a particularly delicate relationship of trust and power. This relationship must not be jeopardized by possible doubt of intent, fairness of professional judgment, or the appearance to other students of favoritism. It is therefore inappropriate for faculty to have romantic or sexual relationships with students. Similar considerations render it inappropriate for faculty or staff to have romantic or sexual relationships with employees over whom they have supervisory authority. Sensitivity to possible conflicts of interest, or to misuse of power, is necessary in cases of other romantic or sexual relationships where one partner may be in a position of power or authority over another (which can occur between faculty and staff, staff and students, or within the staff, student body, or faculty).
The college will strive to educate its members about issues of sexual harassment, and in determinations of whether conduct constitutes such harassment will be guided by a standard of reasonableness, and consideration of all the circumstances of the conduct in question.
Procedures for the resolution of complaints
All members of the community have an obligation to inform themselves about the nature and definition of sexual harassment, in order to recognize and take steps to prevent sexual harassment and to distinguish sexual harassment from other forms of behavior.
The college has both principled reasons and a legal obligation to investigate possible violations of its sexual harassment policy. When a faculty member, dean, or supervisor has reason to believe that a violation of the sexual harassment policy may have occurred, he or she must inform the dean of the faculty, the dean of students, or another designated officer of the college, or otherwise initiate the published procedures of the college, regardless of the wishes of any complainant. Students who are unsure whether they wish such procedures to be initiated may undertake confidential preliminary discussions of possible violations with a counselor in health services. Faculty and staff may similarly undertake confidential discussions with a counselor through the employee assistance program.
The honor principle and the traditions of Reed College encourage the informal resolution of complaints. Informal resolution may occur through direct discussion, through mediation under the auspices of the honor council, or with advice obtained from a designated officer of the college (a list of such officers is published and may be obtained from the office of the president). Without feeling constrained by specific definitions, any person who believes that his or her educational or work experience is compromised by sexual harassment may discuss the problem with a faculty member, dean, or supervisor, and may request that faculty member, dean, or supervisor to speak informally to the person complained about. At any time in the course of an effort at informal resolution, either the complainant or the accused may ask that the matter under discussion be handled formally rather than informally.
Complainants wishing advice about how to proceed with a complaint should consult a member of the honor council or a designated officer of the college. Any complainant who believes that informal resolution is impossible or inappropriate has the right to file a formal complaint and have that complaint addressed according to the published procedures of the college. Such a complainant should file the formal complaint as quickly as possible after the events giving rise to the complaint, since failure to do so may make it difficult or impossible to resolve the matter. When the person accused of harassment is a student, a formal complaint should be filed according to the procedures of the Student Judicial Board Code. When the person accused of harassment is a staff employee of the college, the director of human resources or the vice-president/treasurer should guide a complainant through the appropriate process of the staff handbook. When the person accused of harassment is a faculty member, formal complaints should be filed with the dean of the faculty or his or her designee, and shall be addressed according to Sections F and G of the Rules of Procedure of the Faculty. These procedures are in addition to, and not a replacement for, other remedies (civil or criminal) for sexual harassment.
Copies of the relevant sections of the Student Judicial Code, staff handbook, and rules and procedures of the faculty are available in the student services office.