Exists when sex-based harassment is sufficiently severe or pervasive to deny or limit the individual’s ability to participate in or benefit from the University’s programs or activities or an employee’s terms and conditions of employment. A hostile environment can be created by anyone involved in a University’s program or activity (e.g., administrators, faculty members, employees, students, and University visitors).
In determining whether sex-based harassment has created a hostile environment, the University considers the conduct in question from both a subjective and objective perspective. It will be necessary, but not adequate, that the conduct was unwelcome to the individual who was harassed. To conclude that conduct created or contributed to a hostile environment, the University must also find that a reasonable person in the individual’s position would have perceived the conduct as undesirable or offensive.
To ultimately determine whether a hostile environment exists for an individual or individuals, the University considers a variety of factors related to the severity, persistence, or pervasiveness of the sex-based harassment, including:
- the type, frequency, and duration of the conduct;
- the identity and relationships of the persons involved;
- the number of individuals involved; (4) the location of the conduct and the context in which it occurred; and
- the degree to which the conduct affected an individual’s education or employment.
The more severe the sex-based harassment, the less need there is to show a repetitive series of incidents to find a hostile environment. Indeed, a single instance of sexual assault may be sufficient to create a hostile environment. Likewise, a series of incidents may be sufficient even if the sex-based harassment is not particularly severe.
First Amendment Considerations: this Policy does not impair the exercise of rights protected under the First Amendment. The University’s sexual misconduct policy prohibits only sex-based harassment that creates a hostile environment. In this and other ways, the University applies and enforces this Policy in a manner that respects the First Amendment rights of students, faculty, and others.