Student Conduct

Harassment

Introduction

Harassment of any individual for any reason is not acceptable at Duke University. Harassment is a form of prohibited discrimination and may arise in situations unique to a given interpersonal relationship or in actions rooted in an attitude toward a group. Sexual harassment is perhaps the most commonly understood form of harassment, but it is important to note that harassment on any demographic basis—including age, color, disability, national origin, sex, gender identity, race, religion, class, institutional status, or sexual orientation—also occurs and is expressly forbidden. Abuse of the relationship between teacher and student, or provider and patient, is of particular concern because of the educational and health care missions of Duke University. In all cases, harassment undermines the University’s commitments to excellence and to respect for the dignity and worth of all individuals.

This policy against harassment is consistent with the University’s valuation of academic freedom. Duke University is committed to the free and vigorous discussion of ideas and issues, which the University believes will be protected by this policy. This Harassment Policy shall be applied in a manner that protects the academic freedom of all parties to a complaint. Academic freedom and the related freedom of expression include, but are not limited to, the civil expressions of ideas—however controversial—in the classroom, residence halls, and other teaching and student living environments.

In addition to this Harassment Policy, Duke University and Duke University Health System also provide educational programs to raise the level of understanding about the nature of harassment and ways to prevent its occurrence. These programs may be found on the website of the Office for Institutional Equity (OIE): www.duke.edu/web/equity.

If you are a:

  • Duke undergraduate student, and have a concern regarding peer-on-peer physical sexual misconduct, you should utilize the Duke University Sexual Misconduct Policy, which can be found on page 41. For more information about this policy or its complaint procedures, you may contact the Duke University Office of Student Conduct at 919-684-6938. If your concern or complaint involves forms of harassment other than peer-on-peer physical sexual misconduct, the definition of harassment below will apply and you may contact the Duke University Office of Student Conduct at 919-684-6938 for procedures. [Note: Regardless of whether a report involves peer-on-peer sexual misconduct or other forms of harassment, complainants have the same rights afforded accused students in the processing of these cases.] You may also contact OIE at 919-684-8222 to initiate a complaint or for assistance, and you are also free to contact your academic department chair or advisor.
  • Duke graduate or professional student, and have a concern regarding peer-on-peer physical sexual misconduct, you should utilize the Duke University Sexual Misconduct Policy, which can be found on page 41. For more information about this policy or its complaint procedures, you may contact the Duke University Office of Student Conduct at 919-684-6938, your respective school, or OIE at 919-684-8222. If your concern or complaint involves forms of harassment other than peer-on-peer physical sexual misconduct, the definition of harassment below will apply and you may contact the Student Affairs office within your school for procedures. [Note: Regardless of whether a report involves peer-on-peer sexual misconduct or other forms of harassment, complainants have the same rights afforded accused students in the processing of these cases.] You may also contact OIE at 919-684-8222, your academic department chair, or advisor to initiate a complaint or receive assistance.
  • Duke employee, faculty or physician and have a concern or question regarding these procedures or any provision of Duke’s harassment policy, you may contact OIE at 919-684-8222, your department chair, supervisor, manager, or director or Duke Human Resources Staff and Labor Relations. In these instances, the Duke Harassment Policy would apply.
  • Duke applicant for employment, applicant for admissions, visitor or patient, there are resources to assist you with your concern or question involving harassment. You may contact the office or department with whom you directly interacted or you may contact OIE at 919-684-8222. If you are an applicant for employment, you may also contact Duke Human Resources. If you are an applicant for admission, you may also contact the admissions office of the appropriate school. In these instances, the Duke Harassment Policy and the Duke Nondiscrimination Policy would apply.

Anyone can consult directly with the Office for Institutional Equity for guidance at 919-684-8222 or at www.duke.edu/web/equity.

Definitions

Harassment may take two forms:

The first form of harassment is unwelcome verbal or physical conduct—which may or may not be sexual in nature—that, because of its severity and/or persistence, interferes significantly with an individual’s work or education, or adversely affects an individual’s living conditions.

The second form of harassment occurs if a person uses a position of authority to engage in unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when:

  • submission to such conduct is explicitly or implicitly made a term or condition of an individual’s employment or education; or
  • submission to or rejection of such conduct is used as a basis for decisions affecting an individual’s education or employment.

The conduct alleged to constitute harassment under this Policy shall be evaluated from the perspective of a reasonable person similarly situated to the complainant and in consideration of the context of the behavior.

Harassment must be distinguished from behavior that, even though unpleasant or disconcerting, is appropriate to the carrying out of certain instructional, advisory, or supervisory responsibilities.

Examples of conduct that may constitute harassment include:

  • Continued unwelcomed questioning about intimate or personal matters outside the scope of work or learning
  • Unwelcome touching or physical acts outside the scope of work or learning
  • Unwelcome comments or jokes of a sexual or explicit nature
  • Unwelcome comments or conduct regarding an individual’s race, color, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, disability, etc.
  • Sending e-mails that contain unwelcome, extreme or persistent messages, images or language
  • Persistently joking about an individual’s age, disability, country of national origin, color, sexual orientation, religion, gender identity, etc.

Harassment can occur outside of conduct sexual in nature. Harassment may also be verbal, non-verbal or physical and the above list is not exhaustive, but intended only to provide general examples of possible prohibited conduct. In considering whether conduct has violated the harassment policy, the totality of the circumstances is examined. Members of the Duke community are encouraged to bring specific questions and concerns to the attention of the appropriate Duke University administrator, as set forth in subsequent sections of this policy.

Allegations of student peer-on-peer physical sexual misconduct are addressed through the Duke University Sexual Misconduct Policy. This policy may be found on page 41. For more information regarding the Sexual Misconduct Policy, you may contact the Duke University Office of Student Conduct at 919-684-6938 or your respective professional or graduate school office of Student Affairs.

As used herein, complainant refers to the person making an allegation or complaint of harassment.

The term respondent refers to the person against whom the allegation or complaint of harassment is made. 

An allegation is a statement by a complainant that he or she believes an act of harassment has occurred.

A complaint is a formal notification, either orally or in writing, of the belief that harassment has occurred. 

Scope

Duke Staff, Faculty, Students
This Harassment Policy applies to all persons who are enrolled at or employed by Duke University and Duke University Health System, including their entities and subsidiary organizations, while they are on university property or are participating in a university-related activity off campus. All aspects of the Harassment Procedures described below apply to situations in which both complainant and respondent are enrolled or employed at Duke University or its subsidiaries. However, the Duke University Sexual Misconduct Policy is applicable in cases involving student peer-to-peer physical sexual misconduct. Claims by or against a member of the Office for Institutional Equity will be handled by the Office of the President or his or her designate.

All Others
Situations that involve other individuals (e.g., visitors, patients, graduates of Duke University, applicants for admission or employment, or former employees) who believe they have been harassed by someone either employed by or enrolled at Duke University or Duke University Health System, either on campus or in a university-related activity, may be addressed only through the informal process for handling complaints described on the OIE website at www.duke.edu/web/equity under the Procedures for Evaluation and Resolution of Claims of Harassment under Section III (“Management of Harassment Complaints”), Subsection D (“Informal vs. Formal Process for Managing Complaints of Harassment”).

Situations in which Duke University or Duke University Health System employees or students believe they have been harassed by visitors to the University or contractors or vendors serving the University will be resolved through the informal process.

Individuals who have questions about the Harassment Policy or who wish to file a complaint of harassment should contact the Office for Institutional Equity, Director of Harassment Prevention, Smith Warehouse, 114. S. Buchanan Blvd., Bay 8, Box 90012, Durham, North Carolina 27708, by telephone at 919-684-8222 or visit the OIE website: www.duke.edu/web/equity.

Time Limitation to Bring Complaints

An allegation or complaint of harassment should be submitted to the appropriate individual or office as soon after the offending conduct as possible. A complaint against a student may be filed at any time and is actionable under the university’s disciplinary process up to the point the accused student graduates. For all other respondents, a complaint must be filed no more than one year after the most recent conduct alleged to constitute harassment. While the Office for Institutional Equity may grant a reasonable extension of any other deadline established in the following procedures, the one year limit in which complainants may submit an allegation or complaint shall not be extended. This time limit is intended to encourage complainants to come forward as soon as possible after the offending conduct and to protect respondents against complaints that are too old to be investigated effectively. If the nature of the allegation or complaint is particularly egregious, as determined by the Office for Institutional Equity, OIE has the authority to act as complainant beyond the one-year deadline, provided that this office initiates the complaint within a year of learning about the alleged incident(s) and the evidence is available to support an effective investigation. 

Confidentiality

Duke University and Duke University Health System recognize that confidentiality is important. Breaches of confidentiality compromise the ability of the University to investigate and resolve claims of harassment. Duke University and Duke University Health System will attempt to protect the confidentiality of harassment proceedings to the extent reasonably possible. All participants in the process (including the complainant and respondent, witnesses, advisors, mediators, members of hearing panels) are expected to respect the confidentiality of the proceedings and circumstances giving rise to the dispute. Until resolution has been achieved, participants are expected to discuss the matter only with those persons who have a genuine need to know.

Although the University and Health System are committed to respecting the confidentiality and privacy of all parties involved in the process, they cannot guarantee complete confidentiality. Examples of situations in which confidentiality cannot be maintained include:

  • when the University or Health System is required by law to disclose information (such as in response to legal process)
  • when disclosure of information is determined by the Office for Institutional Equity and/or the department to be necessary for conducting an effective investigation of the claim
  • when confidentiality concerns are outweighed by the University or Health System’s interest in protecting the safety or rights of others.

Retaliation

Any individual who believes s/he has been subjected to harassing conduct is encouraged and has the right to seek support, utilize available resources and come forward with his/her concern or complaint. Fear of retaliation should never be an obstacle to reporting an incident of alleged harassment. This Harassment Policy, as well as Title IX, Title VI and other applicable federal laws prohibit retaliation against a complainant or an individual who participates in an investigation of or follow-up to a complaint of harassment. This policy prohibits retaliation:

Against the Complainant: It is a violation of this Harassment Policy to retaliate against a complainant for making a claim of harassment. If warranted, the appropriate senior administrator may monitor performance review, promotion, reappointment, grading, or other evaluation—or, to the extent possible, may reassign the supervisory relationship—to ensure that retaliation does not occur.

Against the Respondent: A claim of harassment is not proof of prohibited conduct. A claim shall not be taken into account during performance review, promotion, reappointment, or other evaluation unless a final determination has been made that the University’s Harassment Policy has been violated. If necessary and appropriate, such decisions shall be deferred until the claim is resolved.

Against a Witness or Participant in the Investigation: It is also a violation of the Duke Harassment Policy to retaliate against individuals providing information related to a complaint.

Claim of Retaliation: A claim of retaliation by a complainant, respondent or witness may be pursued using the steps followed for an allegation or complaint of harassment.

False or Malicious Complaints

Knowingly filing a false or malicious complaint of harassment or of retaliation is a violation of the Harassment Policy. Such conduct may be pursued using the steps followed for a complaint of harassment.

Procedures for Evaluation and Resolution of Claims of Harassment

Introduction
Responsibility for implementing the Duke University and Duke University Health System policy and procedures regarding harassment rests with OIE. However, other University and Health System personnel are also available to provide consultation and assistance. For example, Human Resources Staff and Labor Relations representatives, as well as department managers, directors and supervisors can assist employees. Academic department chairs, school deans and academic advisors can work with faculty and students in providing guidance about responding to situations that may constitute harassment. Harassment Prevention Advisors, who are trained by OIE, are available to assist students with harassment and/or Title IX concerns. The names and contact information for Harassment Prevention Advisors are available on the OIE website (www.duke.edu/web/equity).

Some forms of harassment may violate federal and state laws, and a complainant or respondent may choose to invoke external processes to resolve his or her concerns instead of or in addition to pursuing the procedures set forth herein. Some forms of harassment may also be criminal in nature. A complainant may choose to utilize the complaint handling processes below, report the alleged conduct to Duke Police and/or local law enforcement or both. Any internal process proceeds without regard to an external process unless University Counsel instructs otherwise.

Note: Complaints of non-physical sexual harassment between students are addressed through the Harassment Policy using the undergraduate disciplinary process as applicable.

Procedures for Resolution of Claims of Harassment Between/Among Undergraduate Students. The Office of Student Conduct has the authority to adjudicate, through the undergraduate disciplinary system, all claims of harassment where the respondent/accused is a Trinity College or Pratt School of Engineering undergraduate student. For these cases, mediation may be attempted with agreement of the parties, but it is neither mandatory nor a right of the complainant or respondent. Students who have concerns about possible harassment may discuss the situation with a harassment prevention advisor, Duke Police, or the Office of Student Conduct.

Students with such complaints, individuals charged with harassment, and individuals with knowledge of situations in which harassment may exist may also seek assistance through a harassment prevention advisor or through the Office for Institutional Equity.

Procedures for Resolution of Harassment Concerns Involving a Teaching Assistant, Graduate Student, Faculty Member or Nonfaculty Employee. Harassment complaints that involve both undergraduate students (as a complainant) and either graduate students, faculty members or employees (as a respondent) are addressed, as necessary, through the intervention of OIE or the official responsible for the respondent’s supervision. Such situations are of particular concern because the possible inherent power differential between the parties increases the potential for coerciveness.