September 16, 2008
Volume 55, No. 4
The University of Pennsylvania is committed to providing respectful learning and working environments for all members of our community. The Principles of Responsible Conduct are an important reference that outlines the expectations articulated in a variety of University policies. The reference document is available at www.upenn.edu/audit/oacp_principles.htm or by contacting the Office of Audit, Compliance and Privacy at (215) 898-7260 or (215) 662-6232.
We call particular attention to the University’s Sexual Harassment Policy which is reprinted below. In addition to reminding us of our rights and responsibilities, the policy describes the resources available for education and support, as well as addressing concerns and complaints. The Offices of Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity Programs, the Ombudsman, Staff and Labor Relations and Student Conduct are among those who are available to respond to any questions or provide additional information.
Executive Vice President
Executive Vice President of The University of Pennsylvania Health System and Dean of the School of Medicine
Sexual Harassment Policy
Our community depends on trust and civility. A willingness to recognize the dignity and worth of each person at the University is essential to our mission.
It is the responsibility of each person on campus to respect the personal dignity of others. We expect members of our University community to demonstrate a basic generosity of spirit that precludes expressions of bigotry.
Penn properly celebrates the diversity of its community. We come to Penn from many different backgrounds and include different races, religions, sexual orientations, and ethnic ancestries. Learning to understand the differences among us, as well as the similarities, is an important dimension of education, one that continues for a lifetime. Tolerance alone, however, is not enough. Respect and understanding also are needed. We should delight in our differences, and should seek to appreciate the richness and personal growth which our diversity provides to us as members of this community.
The University is committed to freedom of thought, discourse and speech, and the attainment of the highest quality of academic and educational pursuits and daily work. Policies and regulations implementing this commitment include the Statement on Academic Freedom and Responsibility, the Guidelines on Open Expression, and the Code of Academic Integrity.
The University also has established policies on behaviors that interfere with these freedoms. Foremost among these policies is the University’s Statement on Non-Discrimination, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, sexual preference, religion, national or ethnic origin, handicap or disability.
The University also has adopted the following policy concerning sexual harassment. The terms “harassment” and “sexual harassment” as used throughout are defined as a matter of University policy, and are not necessarily identical or limited to the uses of that term in external sources, including governmental guidelines or regulations.
II. Purposes and Definitions
For many years the University has stressed that sexual harassment is not tolerated at Penn. As an employer and as an educational institution, the University is committed to eradicating sexual harassment.
Sexual harassment in any context is reprehensible and is a matter of particular concern to an academic community in which students, faculty, and staff must rely on strong bonds of intellectual trust and dependence.
For the purposes of University policy, the term “sexual harassment” refers to any unwanted sexual attention that:
1. Involves a stated or implicit threat to the victim’s academic or employment status;
2. Has the purpose or effect of interfering with an individual’s academic or work performance; and/or;
3. Creates an intimidating or offensive academic, living or work environment.
The University regards such behavior, whether verbal or physical, as a violation of the standards of conduct required of all persons associated with the institution. Accordingly, those inflicting such behavior on others are subject to the full range of internal institutional disciplinary actions, including separation from the University. Likewise, acts of retaliation will be subject to the same range of disciplinary actions.
As noted in the Handbook for Faculty and Academic Administrators, Policies and Procedures, the Academic Bulletin, and other University publications, persons engaged in such harassment within the University setting are subject to the full range of internal institutional disciplinary actions, including separation from the institution.
Not every act that might be offensive to an individual or a group necessarily will be considered as harassment and/or a violation of the University’s standard of conduct. In determining whether an act constitutes harassment, the totality of the circumstances that pertain to any given incident in its context must be carefully reviewed and due consideration must be given to the protection of individual rights, freedom of speech, academic freedom and advocacy.
School and administrative units should make known to all of their members the available resources and the informal and formal procedures for resolving complaints of sexual harassment within the unit or at the University level. These resources include the following:
A. Information, Counseling and Support
The following University resources are available to members of the University community who seek information and counseling about University policies on sexual harassment, standards of behavior, informal and formal mechanisms for resolving complaints and resources for complainants and respondents.
Deans and directors may also make referrals to these resource offices:
• Office of Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity Programs
• African-American Resource Center
• Penn Behavioral Health Employee Assistance Program
• Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Center
• Division of Human Resources, Office of Labor Relations
• Office of the Ombudsman
• Division of Human Resources, Office of Staff Relations
• Division of Public Safety, Special Services
• Penn Women’s Center
• Student Health Services
• Counseling and Psychological Services
• Office of the Vice Provost for University Life
B. Informal Mechanisms for Mediation and Resolution
The Ombudsman, the Office of Affirmative Action, the Penn Women’s Center, all other offices named as resource offices in this policy, the Office of Student Conduct, the Office of Residential Living, department chairs, deans and administrative directors, the provost, and the vice presidents are available to assist in the informal resolution of complaints.
C. Formal Mechanisms for Resolution and Adjudication
When informal resolution is not chosen or is unsatisfactory, complainants are urged to use appropriate formal mechanisms described below:
1. Complaints of sexual harassment against a faculty member, instructor, or teaching assistant may be brought by a student, staff or faculty member to the department chair or dean of the faculty member. The department chair or dean who receives a complaint is then charged with pursuing the matter. While the process depends on the particulars of the complaint, normally the department chair or dean interviews the faculty member. If the matter is not resolved informally, the department chair or dean either conducts an investigation or requests that the Ombudsman, the Office of Affirmative Action, the Office of Staff Relations or the Office of Labor Relations do so. If the results of the investigation persuade the dean or department chair that sanctions are warranted, he/she consults with faculty members—without disclosing the identity of the individuals involved—to aid in determining an appropriate sanction, including whether there is substantial reason to believe that just cause exists for suspension or termination. If it is determined that action should be taken to suspend or terminate, the dean should follow the procedures set out in Section II. E.16 of the Handbook for Faculty and Academic Administrators (see www.upenn.edu/assoc-provost/handbook/ii_e_16.html).
2. Complaints of sexual harassment against a staff member may be brought by a student, staff member or faculty member to the supervisor of the person complained against. The supervisor who receives the complaint is then charged with pursuing the matter. While the process will depend on the particulars of the complaint, normally the supervisor interviews the staff member. If the matter is not resolved informally, the supervisor either conducts an investigation or requests that the Ombudsman, the Office of Affirmative Action, the Office of Staff Relations, or the Office of Labor Relations do so. If the result of the investigation persuades the supervisor that sanctions are warranted, he or she consults with his or her colleagues or supervisor—without disclosing the identity of the individual(s) involved—to aid in determining an appropriate sanction. A staff member who believes that his or her rights have been violated directly by another staff member or administrator may file a grievance by contacting the Office of Staff Relations within the Division of Human Resources under the University of Pennsylvania Staff Grievance Procedure.
3. Complaints by students of sexual harassment may be made to the Office of the Vice Provost for University Life. Grievances associated with sexual harassment in student employment may also fall within the purview of the Vice Provost for University Life.
4. A complaint of sexual harassment may be brought against a student by filing a complaint under the Charter of the University Student Judicial System, or, if the respondent is a graduate or professional student enrolled in a school which has established a hearing board or other decision-making body, with that body.
5. A tenured or untenured faculty member, whether full or part time, who believes she or he has been subjected to sexual harassment by a faculty member or by an academic administrator may file a grievance under the Faculty Grievance Procedure, Handbook for Faculty and Academic Administrators, part II E. 12, (see www.upenn.edu/assoc-provost/handbook/ii_e_12.html) provided the complaint constitutes a grievance as defined in Section I of the Procedure. This procedure is administered by the Faculty Grievance Commission. The panel makes its recommendations to the provost. In cases that involve reappointment, promotion or tenure, and in which the provost has declined or failed to implement the recommendations of the panel to the satisfaction of the grievant, the grievant may obtain a hearing before the Senate Committee on Academic Freedom and Responsibility on the actions of the provost.
6. If the matter has not previously been referred to a different panel or committee, a student or staff member who believes that she or he has been subjected to sexual harassment by a faculty member, and whose complaint has not been resolved through the mechanisms listed above, may bring the matter to the Faculty Senate Committee on Conduct. This committee is a standing committee of the Faculty Senate. At meetings with the Committee, the student or staff member may be accompanied by an advisor who is a member of the University community (student, faculty or staff). The findings and recommendations of the Committee shall be advisory and shall be submitted to the provost for her or his decision and implementation.
D. Central Reporting of Sexual Harassment
1. The University’s decentralized system of resources is designed to encourage the reporting and resolution of complaints of sexual harassment. However, in order to enable the Administration to identify patterns of sexual harassment in a particular location and the increased frequency of such incidents in a given area of the University, the Executive Director of the Office of Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity Programs shall, on a semi-annual basis, convene a meeting of representatives from the offices and centers listed in paragraph (A) of this section to review and report on sexual harassment across the University based upon the reports or complaints of sexual harassment that they have handled formally or informally within their area. Such information can then be transmitted to the appropriate deans or administrative supervisors as appropriate. Any reports will protect the privacy of the complainants and responsible parties involved in each reported case of sexual harassment.
2. Based on the information shared at the semi-annual meetings discussed above, and any reports to deans or other administrative supervisors during the previous year, the Executive Director shall annually submit to the President, by September 15 of the academic year, a summary report describing the incidence of sexual harassment. This report may include recommendations based on the information as warranted. At the discretion of the President, the report may be shared with the University community early in the semester.
E. Education and Prevention
The prevention of sexual harassment and the establishment of effective procedures with due concern for all parties require a thoughtful educational program.
1. University resource offices will provide to the community information on: (a) available mediation and resolution resources; and (b) sources of support and information for victims and respondents.
2. Deans and heads of major administrative units are encouraged to discuss this policy and issues of sexual harassment at meetings of faculty and staff.
3. Training programs for residential advisors, senior administrative fellows, those who meet students in crisis situations and others serving in an advisory capacity to students will include training about referrals, resources and methods for handling instances of sexual harassment.
4. An overall educational program for students that addresses issues of peer sexual harassment and also provides information, definition, support and the identification of sexual harassment resources has been developed by the Office of the Vice Provost for University Life, the Office of Affirmative Action, and the Penn Women’s Center in conjunction with the Office of Residential Living, the Council of College House Masters, and the Council of Senior Faculty Residents involved with the Freshman Year Program. Such an educational program is directed toward new undergraduate and graduate and professional students.
5. The University will publish annually the operative portions of this policy statement, including information about the resources available to advise, counsel and assist in the mediation of sexual harassment allegations. Information will explain how and where to contact University-wide and school-specific resources and will be posted in conspicuous locations. All members of the University should feel a responsibility to try to prevent sexual harassment whenever they observe it. Community members should report sexual harassment to appropriate University resources promptly for appropriate action.
F. Exit Interviews
Deans and administrative directors will periodically survey departing students, faculty and staff to measure the existence and frequency of reports of sexual harassment. Based on the data yielded by these surveys and the annual reports of the Executive Director of Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity Programs, the University administration will determine, in consultation with the University Council, whether there is a need for further efforts to be taken on the issue of sexual harassment.
Deans and administrative directors will be responsible for the implementation of this policy. The Provost and President will oversee the performance of deans and directors in the implementation of this policy.