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Key Definitions

What is Sexual Harassment?

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Sexual Harassment is unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature that is severe or pervasive, and that creates a hostile or abusive learning, working, or living environment, thereby unreasonably interfering with a person’s ability to learn or work, or to access or participate in a College program or activity, and the conduct has no legitimate relationship to the subject matter of an academic course, activity, or research. Conduct is unwelcome when the person being harassed does not solicit or invite the behavior and regards it as offensive. The fact that a person may accept the conduct does​​ not mean that s/he welcomes it. Sexual harassment can include behavior as part of a hazing incident.

Sexual harassment includes sexual advances or conduct, requests for sexual favors, or other conduct of a sexual nature when: (1) submission to or rejection of such conduct is made, explicitly or implicitly, a basis for an academic or employment decision, or a term or condition of either, or a term or condition for participation in any College program or activity (often referred to as “quid pro quo” harassment”); or, ​​(2) such conduct is sufficiently severe or pervasive (assessed both subjectively and objectively) that it has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with or eliminating access to programs and activities because it creates an intimidating, hostile, humiliating, or sexually offensive learning, living, or working environment. ​​​To help assess whether a hostile environment exists, the College will consider the totality of known circumstances, including but not limited to:

a) The frequency, nature, and severity of the conduct;

b) Whether the conduct was physically threatening;

c) The effect of the conduct on the complainant’s mental or emotional status;

d) Whether the conduct arose in the context of other discriminatory conduct;

e) Whether the conduct unreasonably interfered with the complainant’s educational or work performance and/or the complainant’s participation in College programs or activities; and,

f) Whether the conduct implicates concerns related to academic freedom or is otherwise deemed to be protected speech by the College.*

Sexual harassment includes behavior not sexual in nature but behavior directed toward a person because of the person’s sex and/or gender, including harassment based on the person’s nonconformity with gender norms and stereotypes. Sexual harassment includes behavior based on gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression, which may include acts of bias, aggression, intimidation, or hostility, whether verbal or non-verbal, written, graphic, physical, or otherwise, when the conditions outlined in (1) or (2) above are present.

It is not possible to list all circumstances that might constitute sexual harassment. Depending on the circumstances, sexual harassment may include but is not limited to, the following kinds of behavior, which may be committed by individuals who are in supervisory positions or by peers: 

(1) repeated propositions or requests for a sexual relationship to a person who has previously indicated that such conduct is unwelcome; 

(2) requests for sexual favors, whether or not accompanied by promises or threats with regard to the professional relationship; 

(3) unwelcome verbal or written expressions of a sexual nature, including graphic sexual comments about a person’s sexuality, anatomy, attire, appearance, or sexual experience; the hostile use of sexually derogatory or gender-based terms, jokes, innuendo, or graffiti; intrusive sexually explicit questions or story-telling; sexual gestures, noises, remarks, jokes, or questions; 

(4) sexually suggestive objects, pictures, cartoons, recordings, electronic communications, or literature unrelated to employment or educational purposes, used or displayed in the employment or educational setting; 

(5) statements by an instructor to students that women are not capable scientists, or that men are not welcome in a women’s studies course;

(6) consensual sexual relationships where such relationships lead to favoritism of a student or subordinate employee with whom the faculty member or supervisor is sexually involved and where such favoritism adversely affects other students and/or employees.

The various forms of Sexual Harassme​​nt are referred to as "Sexual Misconduct" for the purposes of Providence College policy.  In addition to the above, specific examples of Sex​ual Harassment constituting violations of the Sexual Misconduct or Relationship Violence Policy are:​​

*This Policy is not meant to be used as a mechanism for restricting or suppressing academic freedom. The higher-education academic setting necessarily accommodates themes, topics, material, and speech that are relevant to the subject matter and that, in other settings, may not be appropriate. The essential purposes of the academic setting are free intellectual pursuit and the free exchange of ideas. Wide-open debate helps to foster the search of truth, and in that search, we allow speech that might not be tolerated in other settings. Policies forbidding discriminatory harassment do not threaten academic freedoms.​