H. Policy and Procedures on Sexual Harassment
1. Statement Against and Definition of Sexual Harassment
Illinois Institute of Technology is committed to ensuring an environment for all members of the university community that is fair, humane, and respectful - an environment which supports and rewards student, faculty and staff performance on the basis of relevant considerations such as ability and effort. Behaviors that inappropriately assert sexuality as relevant to student, faculty or staff performance damage this environment. Therefore, IIT will provide for its students, faculty and staff an educational and employment environment free of unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct or communications constituting sexual harassment as defined and otherwise prohibited by local, state and federal law. Sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or sexually-directed remarks constitute harassment when either:
- Submission to such conduct is used or threatened to be used as the basis for academic or employment decisions; or
- Such conduct directed against an individual persists despite its rejection.
Sexual harassment by any member of the university community is prohibited. This prohibition includes peer harassment among students, staff or faculty. Sexual harassment by a faculty member, or teaching assistant of a student over whom he or she has authority, or by a supervisor of a member of the faculty or staff is particularly serious. Such conduct may easily create 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 include sexual assault and sexual advances accompanied by an offer or reward or threats of reprisal. Such behavior constitutes serious misconduct, and a single incident establishes grounds for a complaint. Other forms of sexual harassment include sexual advances, physical or verbal, that are repeated and unwanted.
Romantic relationships that might be appropriate in other contexts may, within a university, create the appearance or fact of an abuse of power or of undue advantage. Moreover, even when both parties have consented at the outset to a romantic involvement, such consent does not preclude a subsequent charge of sexual harassment against the instructor or supervisor.
2. Possible Individual Actions Other than Complaint
In circumstances where it would not jeopardize personal safety, job status, or academic status, a person subjected to unwelcome attention should communicate clearly to the offender that the behavior is not welcome and should cease immediately.
An effort should be made to determine whether other students or coworkers have been harassed. Together, complainants are in a stronger position to cope with the situation and the offender.
Advice on how to deal with the situation may be sought from:
- The Title Nine Coordinator, 312.567.5725, firstname.lastname@example.org;
- The Director of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action, 312.567.3134, email@example.com;
- The Dean of Students, 312.567.3080, firstname.lastname@example.org; or
- The Assistant Dean for Academic Administration and Student Affairs at Chicago-Kent (for Chicago-Kent and the Stuart School) 312.906.5289, email@example.com.
Staff employees or faculty members should consult the appropriate handbook for further guidance.
3. Making a Complaint
A complaint alleging violation of the policy prohibiting sexual harassment may be filed with the Dean of Student’s Office or the Title IX Coordinator by any person who has been the subject of such harassment. The privacy of complainant and those accused of violating this policy shall be protected throughout proceedings to the extent possible. Upon request of any party, at any time during the proceedings, meetings and hearings shall be closed. All reasonable measures will be taken to assure that no one involved in any complaint, investigation, or remedy shall suffer retaliation as a result of the proceedings.
Except for informal complaints in which the complainant elects to take no action beyond consultation, all parties involved in the complaint shall be informed of the content and status of the complaint and shall be given the opportunity to respond. No actions shall be initiated without the consent of the complainant. However, IIT must retain, and hereby retains, the right to conduct an investigation without the consent of the complainant if it determines that such investigation is necessary to protect the interests of the individuals or IIT.
4. Informal Consultation and Resolution
Members of the IIT community who believe they have been subjected to sexual harassment as defined in this policy are encouraged to seek counsel, as appropriate, of faculty members, residence hall advisors, academic unit heads, deans, supervisors, department heads, or administrative officers of IIT. The title IX coordinator, Dean of Students Office, campus Ombudsperson, Human Resources, and the Student Health and Wellness center are particularly appropriate.
The person from whom counsel has been sought will review both the formal and informal options available, and will explain the differences between the two. At the complainant’s request, the person from whom counsel has been sought may help the complainant to resolve the matter informally. Should informal resolution not be possible, the person from whom counsel has been sought should assist in drafting a formal complaint or should refer the complainant to another member of the IIT community who is capable of providing this assistance. If the person from whom counsel is sought feels incapable of dealing with the matter, he or she should refer the complainant promptly to an appropriate person capable of assisting the complainant such as the Dean of Student’s or his or her designee or the Title IX Coordinator. The person alleged to have violated this policy will not be informed of the allegation without the consent of the complainant until and unless requested to assist in informal resolution of the allegation or a decision is made to submit a formal complaint.
5. Investigation Prior to Formal Action
Formal complaints should be filed with the Director of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action in the Office of General Counsel who will consult with the appropriate IIT administrators (including the title IX coordinator) to determine the method by which a preliminary investigation will be conducted. Investigations shall be conducted within the time frames prescribed by law and such time frame shall begin when a complaint is filed.
The purpose of the preliminary investigation is to establish whether there is a reasonable basis for believing that a violation of this policy occurred. The preliminary investigation will afford the accused notice of the allegations and ample opportunity to respond. The investigator(s) shall interview the complainant, the accused, and any other persons believed to have pertinent factual knowledge, taking precautions to insure confidentiality throughout.
At the close of the preliminary investigation, the investigator(s) shall prepare a summary statement of findings. Possible outcomes include a judgment that the allegations are not founded; a negotiated settlement of the complaint; or a recommendation for formal action.
Copies will be provided to the parties and to the Director of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action.
6. Formal Action
A formal investigation will go forward upon the recommendation of the Director of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action following the preliminary investigation or upon the request of the complainant or the accused at any time. The appropriate procedure for a formal proceeding depends on who is being accused of harassment.
When the person accused of harassment is a student, the matter will be handled following the procedures for Conduct Discipline under the Code of Conduct in the Student Handbook. The complainant and accused shall have the right to appeal a sanction imposed by the Dean of Students or Judicial Board in matters involving complaints of sexual harassment or sexual assault except when the sanction is suspension or expulsion and the basis for the appeal is that the sanction imposed is inappropriate to the offense. Pursuant to the Code of Conduct, sanctions of suspension and expulsion are automatically stayed and referred to the Provost for review. The Provost may make any determination outlined in the Code of Conduct and such determination shall not be subject to further appeal on the basis that the sanction imposed was inappropriate to the offense.
When the person accused of harassment is a staff employee, a staff member from the Office of Human Resources will guide a complainant through a formal review process.
When the person accused of harassment is a faculty member or other member of the academic staff, the following procedures apply.
- Once a hearing has been requested, a Panel will be formed under the procedures set out in Appendix I of the faculty handbook. It is the task of the Panel to determine the facts. At any time in its proceedings, the Panel may decide that the complaint should be rejected as clearly unfounded. The Panel will be provided with written statement from the complainant and the accused and, if necessary, will interview persons with knowledge bearing on the matter, including the complainant and the accused. The proceedings will be kept confidential.
- If the complaint is found to have merit, the Panel will relay its finding to the Provost who will take appropriate action (for example, a reprimand, mandatory workshop participation, apology, or invocation of the procedures for suspension or termination). If the complaint is found to have no merit (or if the facts cannot be established), the complaint will be dismissed. Whatever the outcome, both parties will be informed of the Panel’s findings and the Provost’s actions.
- In extraordinary circumstances, the Provost or other appropriate vice president, or president, in consultation with the Provost (in the case of a student or faculty member) and the chair of the University Faculty Council (in the case of a faculty member), may at any time during the proceedings, suspend a member of the IIT community from participation in activities where there is cause to believe that serious and immediate harm to others will ensue.
7. Sexual Assault
Anyone who is the victim of a sexual assault should call the Public Safety Department (312.808.6300) or the Chicago Police Department as soon as possible. Help can also be received from Student Health and Wellness Center (312.567.7550), the Title IX Coordinator (312.567.5735) or the Office of Student Affairs (312.567.3080).
Delayed reporting usually makes it more difficult to find and convict the assailant. A report should be filed with the police. Filing a report does not obligate the victim to press charges or pursue legal action.
A medical examination should be obtained as soon as possible. The emergency rooms at Mercy and University of Chicago hospitals have policies and procedures for staff to follow in treating victims of sexual assault.
If the person accused of the assault is an IIT student, a complaint may also be brought to the Dean of Students. The complaint will be investigated according to the procedures outlined under this Policy and Procedure on Sexual Harassment and the matter will be handled accordingly. (Mediation and negotiated settlement will not be used to resolve a complaint of sexual assault.)