Equity and Diversity

Sexual harassment

The University encourages students and staff who feel they have been sexually harassed to seek advice and address the issue directly, either informally or by making a complaint.

What is sexual harassment?

Sexual harassment is an unwelcome sexual advance, an unwelcome request for sexual favours or any other unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature. The intention is irrelevant to the definition.

Sexual harassment may be a single incident or a series of incidents.

Sexual harassment may be verbal, for example:

  • sexual propositions or persistent requests for dates
  • unwelcome or improper remarks or insinuations about a person's sex life or private life
  • suggestive comments about a person's appearance or body
  • requests for sex
  • sexually explicit conversations
  • persistent, unwelcome social invitations or telephone calls from a colleague at work or home.

It may be non-verbal, for example:

  • display or distribution of offensive messages or material either on hard copy or electronically
  • displaying sexually suggestive pictures or pornography, screen savers and internet sites
  • sexually explicit emails or SMS messages.

It may be physical, for example:

  • pinching
  • stroking
  • touching in a sexual way
  • familiarity such as brushing against a person.

Relationships based on mutual attraction or friendship do not constitute sexual harassment. If the interaction is consensual, welcome and reciprocated it is not sexual harassment.

More definitions

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23rd March 2011