What Is Harassment?
Harassment is unwelcome conduct that is serious enough to significantly interfere with an individual’s work, education, living conditions, or participation in university programs and activities. Sexual harassment (including sexual violence) is perhaps the most commonly understood form of harassment, but it is important to note that harassment on any basis (such as age, color, disability, gender, gender expression, gender identity, genetic information, national origin, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, or veteran status) can also occur.
Harassment occurs when either:
- There is conduct that is sufficiently severe, persistent, or pervasive to significantly interfere with an individual's work, education, living conditions, or participation in university programs or activities
- A person uses a position of authority to engage in unwelcome conduct, such as sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other conduct of a sexual nature
What Is Duke’s Policy on Harassment?
Harassment of any individual for any reason is not acceptable at Duke University. In all cases, it undermines the university's commitments to excellence and to respect for the dignity and worth of all people.
Duke has several policies that prohibit harassment, including:
- Policy on Prohibited Discrimination, Harassment, and Related Misconduct, which applies to anyone enrolled at or employed by Duke University or Duke University Health System as well as visitors, applicants, and patients.
- Student Sexual Misconduct Policy, which covers sexual and gender-based harassment, sexual assault, interpersonal violence, and sex- or gender-based stalking committed by undergraduate, graduate, and professional students.
All Duke managers and supervisors are required to report to OIE any discrimination or harassment that they learn of involving employees (including both faculty and staff). All Duke employees (except those designated as confidential resources below) are required to report sexual misconduct involving students to the Office of Student Conduct.
What Are Some Examples of Harassment?
Generally, harassment occurs when there is unwelcome behavior that is either so severe, persistent, or pervasive that it significantly interferes with your work, education, or ability to participate in Duke’s programs and activities. Examples could include:
- Continued unwelcome questioning about intimate or personal matters
- Severe, persistent, or pervasive comments or jokes based on race or national origin
- Emails that contain extreme or persistent comments about an individual’s disability
- Repeated derogatory comments relating a particular religion and targeted to a specific individual of that religion
- Sexual violence
- Domestic or dating violence
- Violence based on race, national origin, disability, gender expression or identity, etc.
Note that some types of harassment could be criminal in nature and can also be reported to Duke Police.
What’s Not Considered Harassment?
Harassment is distinguished from behavior that, even though unpleasant or disconcerting, is appropriate to the carrying out of certain instructional, advisory, or supervisory responsibilities. Examples of situations that are not considered harassment include:
- Discussion of issues regarding race or national origin in a classroom setting with a legitimate educational purpose
- Presentation of sexually explicit material as part of a theatrical presentation
- Perceptions of unfair treatment generally; for example, disagreement or dissatisfaction with the way a supervisor manages an employee’s work
You may also get help from any of the following resources:
Confidential assistance for undergraduate, graduate, and professional students of all genders is available through:
- Office of Gender Violence Prevention in the Women's Center, at WCHelp@duke.edu or 919-684-3897 (Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.) or 919-970-2108 (pager after hours, weekends, holidays)
- Counseling and Psychological Services
- Student Health
- Ada Gregory, Student Ombudsperson, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 919-684-6334
- Clergy acting in their professional capacity
Harassment Prevention Advisors (HPAs) are Duke administrators who have been trained to help students with harassment concerns or complaints, including those involving Title IX. Please be aware that, when responding to harassment concerns or complaints, HPAs are unable to guarantee confidentiality. See a list of current HPAs.
Applicants, Visitors, and Patients
If you are a Duke applicant for employment or admissions or a visitor or patient, there are resources to assist you with your concern or question involving harassment. You may contact either:
- The office or department with which you directly interacted
- OIE at 1-919-684-8222
Duke's Minors in Duke University Programs Policy sets out Duke's policy regarding children under the age of 18 who participate in Duke programs and activities. This includes athletic camps, academic camps, the Talent Identification Program, and similar activities. Every member of the university community is required to immediately report instances or suspected instances of the abuse of or inappropriate interactions with or involving minors to Duke University Police and to the Program Director. In addition, the Program Director is required to report harassment involving minors to the Office for Institutional Equity to be addressed through the Harassment Policy and Procedures. Parents of participants in these programs and activities can also report harassment to OIE. The program and/or OIE will connect the participant with appropriate supports and resources.
Have You Been Accused of Harassment?
If you’ve been accused of harassment, there are resources to assist you. Resources available for Duke students who are respondents in an investigation include:
- Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS)
- Office of Student Conduct
- Student ombudsperson
- Your school or department student affairs office
Resources available for Duke non-faculty employees who have been accused of harassment include:
Resources available for Duke faculty employees who have been accused of harassment include:
- Duke Human Resources Staff and Labor Relations
- Duke Personal Assistance Services
- Faculty ombudsperson
Special Notice for International Students
International students, whether complainants or respondents, should contact Duke Visa Services for assistance in determining how their actions will affect their visa statuses in the U.S. This office will provide regulatory guidance for any complainant or respondent considering a reduced course load, leave of absence, or change to a nonimmigrant status. Respondents will also receive guidance on how any disciplinary actions by the institution could affect their visa status and/or referral to a qualified immigration attorney.