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Sexual Assault and Harassment

Prohibition of Discrimination and Sexual Misconduct | Options for Resolution | Equal Opportunity Officer

The Sexual Assault and Harassment Policy’s Procedures for Resolution of Complaints against staff and instructional staff, including faculty, is a separate College process and will be followed to resolve all complaints related to sexual misconduct of all forms, including:

  • Sexual Harassment
  • Sexual Assault
  • Sexual Exploitation
  • Indecent Exposure
  • Intimate-Partner Violence, including Dating Violence and Domestic Violence
  • Retaliation
  • Stalking
  • Other misconduct that is sex or gender based or in the context of an intimate partner relationship, including bullying and intimidation, physical assault, and discrimination.

These policies are consistent with relevant governmental statutes and regulations, including those pursuant to Title IX of the Federal Education Amendments of 1972 and Section 504 of the Federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

Prohibition of Discrimination and Sexual Misconduct 

The College seeks to create an environment in which the maximum academic potential of students and professional potential of employees can be realized. In keeping with its efforts to create such an environment, the College recognizes that all who work and learn at the College are responsible for ensuring that the work and academic environment is free from discriminatory practices, including sexual misconduct. Further, it is the obligation of every employee to report sexual misconduct that is suspected in the college community. Community members are always encouraged to report or seek assistance for any concern related to work conditions or relationships at the college.

Prohibited discrimination relating to a protected status and sexual misconduct are inappropriate conduct and are grounds for discipline, up to dismissal, or other remedial measures depending on the circumstances as well as the severity and pervasiveness of the behavior. The inappropriate conduct does not need to qualify as unlawful for the college to take action. Because some inappropriate conduct within this policy may also be a violation of law, any individual who feels subjected to illegal conduct has the right to initiate legal proceedings in criminal or civil court in addition to or in lieu of a complaint pursuant to this policy.

Specifically, sexual misconduct represents a continuum of behaviors ranging from physical sexual assault and abuse to sexual harassment and intimidation. Anyone can be subject to and can be capable of sexual misconduct. It can occur between two people, whether or not they are in a relationship, in which one has power over the other, or are of different sexual identities. All forms of sexual misconduct are prohibited and are serious violations of the College's policies. Whenever the College learns of allegations of sexual misconduct, it will take appropriate action to investigate the allegations and take prompt remedial action that is aimed at stopping and preventing sexual misconduct.

Sexual misconduct includes both sexual harassment and sexual assault. Sexual assault is a particularly serious form of sexual misconduct, which could also lead to criminal prosecution. It can range from unwanted, intentional physical contact to rape. For faculty and instructional staff, sexual assault will be considered to be a particularly serious form of unprofessional conduct.

Sexual harassment is another form of sexual misconduct that is a type of discrimination based on sex or gender. Swarthmore College also finds that harassment based on sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression is also a form of sexual harassment for purposes of the College's policies. There are two basic types of sexual harassment:

A. Quid Pro Quo Harassment is any action in which submission to conduct of a sexual nature is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual's education or employment, or in which submission to or rejection of such conduct is used as the basis for academic or employment decisions affecting that individual. It is not necessary for this type of harassment to be repeated in order to be deemed sexual harassment.

B. Hostile Environment Harassment is any unwelcome action, verbal expression, usually repeated or persistent, or a series of actions or expressions that have either the intent, or are reasonably perceived as having the effect, of creating an intimidating, hostile, or demeaning educational, employment, or living environment for a student or College employee, either by being sexual in nature or by focusing on a person's gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. An intimidating, hostile, or demeaning environment is defined as one that is so severe, pervasive, or objectively offensive that it unreasonably interferes with a person's ability to work, learn, exist in living conditions, or have access and opportunity to participate in all and any aspect of academic, professional, or residential campus life.

Some specific examples of sexual harassment include, but are not limited to: unwelcome verbal or physical advances, persistent leers, and lewd comments; the persistent use of sex stereotypes or irrelevant references or remarks about a person's gender, sexuality or sexual orientation that insult or degrade; and manipulation of an authority relationship to coerce (not necessarily involving physical force) or influence another person to do something of a sexual nature that they would not otherwise do. Depending on the circumstances, repeated unwelcome remarks, about a person's personality or appearance might be interpreted as sexually suggestive. Such remarks are particularly objectionable when they interfere with the purposes of the relationship and reasonably result in feelings of confusion, uncertainty, or discomfort for the person who is the object of the remarks.

Examples of other forms of sexual misconduct within the College community include: indecent exposure of one’s own private body parts or genitalia, dating or domestic violence, and stalking an individual based on a sexual purpose.

Options for Resolution

If a situation arises in which an individual has been the victim of discrimination or other forms of non-sex/gender based misconduct by a staff member, Swarthmore's internal Procedures for Resolving Non-Sex/Gender-Based Complaints Against Staff Members, described fully in the next section, may be invoked to resolve the matter.

Before deciding to file a complaint via the staff process, the individual may consult informally with the Director, Equal Opportunity and Engagement for advice or possible informal resolution of the problem, if appropriate. Depending on the circumstances, it may be necessary for the Director, Equal Opportunity and Engagement to conduct an investigation with or without the staff member’s consent.

Additional assistance and information is available from the offices listed below.

  • Equal Opportunity/Human Resources Office: EEO Officer, 101 South Chester, ext. 5667
  • Your supervisor, department chair, or other member of management
  • Provost's Office: Provost, Parrish 229, ext. 8319
  • Public Safety: Ben West House, ext. 8281
  • Dean‘s Office: Parrish 108, ext. 8365

It is important to note that discussing concerns with the Equal Opportunity Officer or any other resource person listed above, does not obligate a person to initiate the complaint procedures, nor do such discussions preclude a person from doing so. Regardless of whether or not options for resolution are pursued within the College system, individuals always have the right to pursue legal action, whether criminal, civil, or regulatory, in addition to or in lieu of a complaint pursuant to this policy.

Equal Opportunity Officer

The College's Equal Opportunity Officer (EO Officer) is responsible for monitoring the equal employment and educational opportunity compliance of the College and assisting with application and interpretation of laws that impose special obligations on the College.

The EO Officer  is available to consult with employees and students about matters they believe might involve issues of discrimination. The EO Officer also oversees investigations regarding complaints that involve questions of prohibited discrimination. The EO Officer may enlist the support of the Public Safety investigators or another trained investigator during the investigation process.