Sexual Misconduct - Sexual Harassment

On this page, you will find educational information and resources about sexual harassment. You can also read Yale’s official definitions of sexual harassment by visiting the Title IX at Yale website. 

General Information About Sexual Harassment

A range of behaviors and behavior patterns fall into the category of sexual harassment, including but not limited to inappropriate jokes and remarks, unwanted sexual advances, and unwanted sexual questioning. Some behaviors may feel harmless on their own, but in the context of a power dynamic and/or repeat occurrences, they can add up to create a hostile environment.  Other behaviors are clearly hostile and intimidating even as singular occurrences. Sexual harassment is not simply about sex. It is often used to assert power and dominance and can include targeting the person’s race or other identities. Sexual harassment may or may not be sexual in nature. It can also be sex-based (based on someone’s sex or gender).  
Given how closely we work and live together at Yale, even harassment targeted at one person can impact people beyond the direct recipient. Those who experience sexual harassment may experience negative consequences, including, depression, general stress and anxiety, and overall impaired psychological well-being.
According to the RAINN website, some examples of sexual harassment include:
  • Making conditions of employment, advancement, favorable evaluation/grading, etc. dependent on sexual favors, either explicitly or implicitly.
  • Requests for sexual favors.
  • Verbal harassment of a sexual nature, including jokes referring to sexual acts or sexual orientation.
  • Unwelcome sexual advances.
  • Discussing sexual relations/stories/fantasies at work, school, or in other inappropriate places.
  • Feeling pressured to engage with someone sexually.
  • Exposing oneself or performing sexual acts on oneself.
  • Unwanted sexually explicit photos, emails, or text messages.
Persons of all genders can experience sexual harassment. It can occur between peers or between individuals between whom a power differential exists. Ongoing harassment can feel particularly problematic when it takes place within professional and academic hierarchies (for example when it involves advisors, managers, supervisors) as the targeted person may feel that speaking up will worsen the situation. Reaching out to SHARE’s confidential services can be a good place to start to explore options to move forward. Many resources at Yale (including SHARE and Title IX) have extensive experience addressing situations involving complex power dynamics and will work closely with you to explore ways to address the situation in a way that feels safe for you. The decision of how to proceed is always left up to you, unless the situation involves an imminent safety concern.
Yale prohibits consensual sexual or romantic relationships between teachers and students or between a staff member and employee who have or might reasonably expect to have supervisory or reporting responsibilities. Please see Yale’s Policy on Teacher-Student Consensual Relations and Yale’s Policy on Relationships Between Staff Members for more detailed information on these issues.

Additional Resources:

  • RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) is the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization.
  • Hollaback! is an anti-street harassment organization.
  • Stop Street Harassment is an organization that encourages bystander behavior and provides supportive resources for preventing street harassment and promoting activism. 
  • The National Institute of Health’s anti-harassment statement and resource page.  
  • OCR’s mission is to ensure access to education and promote educational excellence throughout the nation through enforcement of civil rights.  
  • Lean In-Dealing with Sexual Harassment provides resources for survivors, people who want to stand with them, and workplace settings and organizations.
  • The EEOC provides the legal definition of and facts about sexual harassment, statistics, and the code of federal regulations for sexual harassment in the workplace.