Sexual Harassment

It is the policy of the University of Michigan to maintain an academic and work environment free of sexual harassment for students, faculty, and staff. Sexual harassment is contrary to the standards of the University community. It diminishes individual dignity and impedes equal employment and educational opportunities and equal access to freedom of academic inquiry. Sexual harassment is a barrier to fulfilling the University’s scholarly, research, educational, and service missions. It will not be tolerated at the University of Michigan.

A claim under the policy may be brought by the University or by a faculty, staff or student member of the University community based on the conduct of any University employee. Complaints based on conduct by students who are not also employees of the University are addressed to the Student Code of Conduct, which is administered by the Office of Student Conflict Resolution.

Sexual harassment can be a very serious matter, having far-reaching effects on the lives and careers of individuals. Intentionally false accusations can have a similar impact. Thus, the charge of sexual harassment is not to be taken lightly by a charging party, an accused party, or any member of the University community. A person who knowingly and intentionally files a false complaint under this policy is subject to University discipline.

Sexual harassment most often occurs when one person has actual or apparent power or authority over another; however, it may also occur between individuals of equal status or rank within the University. Sexual harassment may occur between males and females and between persons of the same gender.

Romantic and sexual relationships between supervisor and employee or between faculty or other staff and a student are not expressly prohibited by University policy. However, even when both parties have consented to the development of such relationships, they can raise serious concerns about the validity of the consent, conflicts of interest, and unfair treatment of others. Similar concerns can be raised by consensual relationships between senior and junior faculty members.

The University’s nepotism policy precludes individuals from evaluating the work performance of others with whom they have intimate, familial or close personal relationships, or from making hiring, salary or similar financial decisions concerning such persons, without prior written approval. The same principles apply to staff-student or faculty-student relationships in the context of work or academic evaluation. Thus, consensual romantic or sexual relationships between faculty or staff and students also require disclosure to the appropriate administrative supervisor so that arrangements can be made for objective evaluation and decision-making with regard to the student.

Romantic or sexual relationships with students which occur outside of the instructional or supervisory context may also lead to difficulties. The Senate Assembly has concluded, and the University concurs, that the asymmetry of the faculty-student relationship means that any sexual relationship between a faculty member and a student is potentially exploitative and should be avoided. Faculty and staff engaged in such relationships should be sensitive to the constant possibility that they may unexpectedly be placed in a position of responsibility for the student’s instruction or evaluation.

In the event of a charge of sexual harassment, the University will, in general, be unsympathetic to a defense based upon consent when the facts establish that a professional faculty-student, staff-student, or supervisor-employee power differential existed within the relationship.

The University encourages persons who believe that they have experienced or witnessed sexual harassment to come forward promptly with their inquiries, reports, or complaints and to seek assistance within the University. Individuals also have the right to pursue a legal remedy for sexual harassment in addition to or instead of proceeding under this policy. (SPG 201.89) For further information, call the Office of Institutional Equity at (734) 763-1284 or visit the web site at http://hr.umich.edu/oie.