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FAQs - Students/Harassment & Discrimination

Frequently Asked Questions - Harassment and Discrimination

- What is discrimination?
- What is harassment?
- What is quid pro quo sexual harassment?
- What constitutes a hostile or offensive environment?
- Is stereotyping considered harassment?
- What types of harassment and discrimination are prohibited by law or University policy?
- What does sexual harassment include? 
- What is a bias incident?
- Is a bias incident different than a hate crime?
- Then what is a hate crime?
- If I think I've seen or experienced a bias incident and/or hate crime, what should I do?
- If I don't know whether I want to report what happened, is there someone confidential that I can talk with?
- What resources are available to provide information and support following an incident of harassment or discrimination?
- Does there need to be a difference in power between the parties for there to be harassment?
- If I don't mean to harass anyone, is it still harassment?
- What do I do if I think I'm being harassed?
- Do I have to try to stop the behavior myself?
- What do I do if I feel like I'm being harassed, but I'm not sure if I'm being harassed based on one of those legally protected bases?
- What should I do if I witness inappropriate conduct?
- What protection is there against retaliation if I make a report or file a complaint?
- How does Lehigh determine whether a violation of the University's policies has occurred?
- If I am a respondent, what type of sanctions could be imposed if I'm found to have engaged in harassing or discriminatory conduct?
- Does Lehigh have a mechanism for identifying repeat offenders?
- Who can I contact for more information and/or to investigate a complaint?
- If I make a report or file a complaint, is it confidential?

1.    What is discrimination?

Discrimination occurs when an individual is subjected to negative or adverse treatment based on or more protected characteristic that denies or limits the individual's ability to obtain educational benefits or interferes with the work environment.

Examples of discrimination include a faculty member giving a student a lower grade because of the student's race, a staff person receiving a negative performance review based on gender identity or expression, or a student with a disability who does not receive approved academic accommodations.

2.    What is harassment?

Harassment, a form of discrimination, is prohibited by law and by University policy, including the Student Code of Conduct.  There are two forms of harassment:  quid pro quo sexual harassment and hostile or offensive environment.

3.    What is quid pro quo sexual harassment?

Quid pro quo sexual harassment includes unwelcome sexual advances and requests for sexual favors, where submission to the conduct is made a term or condition or employment or educational opportunity; or submission to or rejection of such conduct is used as a basis for employment or educational decisions.  Such harassment may involve behavior by a person of one sex against a person of the same or different sex.  This form of harassment only applies to situations based on sex.

Examples of quid pro quo sexual harassment may include but are not limited to:  (a) seeking sexual favors or relationships in return for the promise of a favorable grade or other academic opportunity (e.g., professor tells student "sleep with me and you will receive and A", or "if you don't sleep with me, I will make sure that you fail the class", or graduate teaching assistant tells undergraduate student "have sex with me tonight and I'll put in a good word for you when Professor X is selecting her research assistant"); or (b) basing an employment-related action (e.g., hiring, salary increase, performance appraisal, termination) on a sexual favor or relationship (e.g., supervisor tells supervisee "go out for a drink with me and I'll make sure that you receive a good raise", or "if you don't share a room with me at the conference, I'm not sure that I'll be able to renew your position").

4.    What constitutes a hostile or offensive environment?

A hostile work, learning, co-curricular, social or living environment occurs when an individual is subjected to unwelcome statements, jokes, gestures, pictures, touching, or other conduct that offends, demeans, harasses, or intimidates and is based on one or more of the protected characteristics.  The violating conduct may involve a single serious and offensive event, or many involve persistent harassing behavior that occurs over time.

Examples of persistent harassing behavior include students in a class ask a teaching assistant not to tell jokes targeted at individuals of a particular race, national origin or sexual orientation, but they continue to do so; or an employee asks a supervisor not to touch the employee, but the supervisor continues to do so.

Examples of a single serious and offensive event could include an intentional, non-consensual touching of an intimate body area of another person; or an instructor humiliating a student in class by making a joke about the student's disability.

Harassment also includes offensive verbal or physical conduct or text or graphic communication including through social media that has the purpose or effect of interfering with an individual's work or educational performance, or has the purpose or effect of creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment.

5.    Is stereotyping considered harassment?

It can be.  Statements that demean people on the basis of a protected characteristic can also contribute to a hostile work or educational environment.

For example, it would be sex stereotyping to ask a man or a woman why he or she is majoring in a discipline such as English, Engineering, or Finance because people of this gender can't succeed in the area.  Another example of stereotyping would be to ask an older colleague why the colleague hasn't retired.  Each of these isolated questions is not harassment by itself, but could contribute to a hostile environment.

6.    What types of harassment and discrimination are prohibited by law or University policy?

Harassment and discrimination that occurs based on one or more of the following protected characteristics are prohibited by law and University policy:

  • Age
  • Color
  • Disability
  • Gender Identity or Expression
  • Genetic Information
  • Marital or Familial Status
  • National or Ethnic Origin
  • Race
  • Religion
  • Sex
  • Sexual Orientation
  • Veteran Status

7.    What does sexual harassment include?

Included in the types of conduct prohibited by law and University policy as constituting sexual harassment are sexual assault (rape, fondling, incest, and statutory rape), sexual exploitation, stalking, dating violence, domestic violence, exposure or one's body in an indecent or lewd manner, and sexual activity in public or semi-public places.  For more information on the definition of these terms, please see Article V of the Student code of Conduct, accessible at:  http://studentaffairs.lehigh.edu/content/community-standards-university-....

8.    What is a bias incident?

A bias incident, as defined by the University, is behavior that consitutes a violation of the University's policies, such as the Student Code of Conduct or other applicable policy, that is motivated by the respondent's bias towards the victim's actual or perceived age, color, disability, gender identity or expression, genetic information, marital or familial status, national or ethnic origin, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation or veteran status.  A report or complaint of a bias incident will be resolved under the University's applicable policies and procedures and could result in disciplinary action.

9.    Is a bias incident different than a hate crime?

It depends on the circumstances.  Some bias incidents may also be considered a hate crime, but not in every circumstance.  But, if it is determined that a hate crime occurred, then the incident will also always be considered a bias incident.

10.  Then what is a hate crime?

A hate crime occurs when there has been a violation of a state's criminal laws, and that violation of the law was motivated, in whole or in part, by the offender's bias toward the victim's actual or perceived age, color, disability, gender identity or expression, genetic information, marital or familial status, national or ethnic origin, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation or veteran status.  The process for determining whether an incident is a crime and possibly a hate crime is a legal matter to be determined by the University Police and the Northampton County District Attorney.

11.   If I think I've seen or experienced a bias incident and/or hate crime, what should I do?

Bias incidents and/or hate crimes should be reported just like an incident of harassment, discrimination, or retaliation.  The reporting options for filing with law enforcement and/or the University are explained on the Reporting Options page.  In addition, you may also file a complaint about a bias incident by completing the online Discrimination, Harassment, Retaliation or Bias Incident Reporting Form at lehigh.edu/go/harassment.

12.   If I don't know whether I want to report what happened, is there someone confidential that I can talk with?

Yes.  Lehigh University has two confidential resources on campus:

Chaplain's Office
The Dialogue Center, 661 Taylor Street
610-758-3877

Counseling & Psychological Services
Johnson Hall, 4th Floor
610-758-3880

13.  What resources are available to provide information and support following an incident of harassment or discrimination?

There are several on-campus resources that can provide information and support, including:

Lehigh University Police Department
321 E. Packer Avenue
610-758-4200

Equal Opportunity Compliance Coordinator / Title IX Coordinator
Alumni Memorial Building, Room 105
610-758-3535
eocc@lehigh.edu

Office of Gender Violence Education & Support
University Center, C109
610-758-1303
ingves@lehigh.edu

Office for Gender Equity
University Center, C207
610-758-6484
inwnc@lehigh.edu

Office of Multicultural Affairs
University Center, C203
610-758-5973
inmca@lehigh.edu

The Pride Center
University Center, B202
610-758-4126
rainbowroom@lehigh.edu

Dean of Students Office
Williams Hall, Suite 380
610-758-4156
indost@lehigh.edu

Office of Student Conduct & Community Expectations
Williams Hall, Suite 320
610-758-4632
cjm9@lehigh.edu
hat214@lehigh.edu

Office of Academic Support
Williams Hall, Suite 390
610-758-4159

Ombuds Office
Robert Thornton          Susan Szczepanski
610-758-3460                  610-758-3727
rjt1@lehigh.edu           ss08@lehigh.edu

There are also numerous off campus resources that can provide support, including:

Bethlehem Police Department
610-865-7187 (non-emergencies)

From University Phone:  9-911 (emergencies)
From Non-University Phone:  911 (emergencies)

Lehigh Valley Hospital - Muhlenberg
2545 Schoenersville Road
Bethlehem, PA  18017
484-884-2200 (General)
484-884-2521 (Emergency Department)

St. Luke's University Hospital - Bethlehem
810 Ostrum Street
Bethlehem, PA  18015
484-526-4000

Crime Victims Council of the Lehigh Valley
801 Hamilton Street, Suite 300
Allentown, PA  18101
610-437-6610
610-437-6611 (24 hour hotline)

Turning Point of the Lehigh Valley
444 E. Susquehanna Street
Allentown, PA  18103
1-877-438-4957
TTY:  610-882-2465
610-437-3369 (24 hour hotline)

State:

Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape
1-888-772-7227

Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence
1-800-932-4632
TTY:  1-800-553-2508

National:

National Sexual Violence Resource Center
1-877-739-3895
TTY:  1-717-909-0715

National Resource Center on Domestic Violence
1-800-799-7233
TTY:  1-800-787-3224

Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network
1-888-656-HOPE

14.   Does there need to be a difference in power between the parties for there to be harassment?

Not necessarily.  A hostile or offensive environment can be created by other students, teammates, co-workers, faculty, coaches, alumni, or visitors to campus such as vendors and contractors.  But, a situation involving quid pro quo sexual harassment typically involves one person in a position of power or influence over another.

15.   If I don't mean to harass anyone, is it still harassment?

Yes, it is still harassment if it meets one of the definitions of harassment and is based on a protected characteristic.  In determining whether your conduct is or is not harassment, we look to the impact on the person experiencing the harassment, not on the intent of the individual engaging in the conduct.  In other words, your intention is irrelevant - what matters is the impact felt by the individual who is experiencing your behavior.

16.   What do I do if I think I'm being harassed?

You have several options.  If you feel comfortable addressing the person directly, you can speak with the person and ask them to stop engaging in that particular conduct.

If you do not feel comfortable addressing the person directly, or you have done so and the conduct continues, there are several individuals or offices that you can speak with to report the conduct.  The Equal Opportunity Compliance Coordinator is responsible for reviewing all reports and complaints of discrimination and harassment.  The Equal Opportunity Compliance Coordinator can also answer questions that you have regarding discrimination and harassment and discuss options and resources.  The University's Equal Opportunity Compliance Coordinator is Karen A. Salvemini, Esq.  Ms. Salvemini also serves as the University's Title IX Coordinator.  Ms. Salvemini can be contacted at:

Alumni Memorial Building - Room 105
27 Memorial Drive West
Bethlehem, PA  18015
610-758-3535
eocc@lehigh.edu

In the event that the conduct involves the Title IX Coordinator/Equal Opportunity Compliance Coordinator, reports by students should be made to:

Katherine Lavinder
Dean of Students
31 Williams Drive, Williams Hall, Suite 380
Bethlehem, PA 18015
610-758-4156
indost@lehigh.edu

If you would prefer to speak with your advisor, a faculty member, your department chair, or a staff member, you should certainly feel free to do so.  Please note that in those situations where discrimination or harassment may be alleged, and those situations are disclosed to a faculty or staff member, the faculty or staff member will also inform the Equal Opportunity Compliance Coordinator about the situation.

If you feel unsafe or that it is an emergency situation, you should immediately contact the Lehigh University Police Department by calling 610-758-4200.  If you feel safe or it is not an emergency situation, and you would like to file a report with the police, please contact the Lehigh University Police Department by calling 610-758-4200.  Filing a report with the police is separate from pursuing a complaint through the University's policies and procedures.  You may file a complaint with both the University and the University Police Department.

17.   Do I have to try to stop the behavior myself?

No, you are not required to try to stop the behavior yourself.  If you are comfortable addressing the person directly about their behavior, then you are certainly encouraged to do so.  But, it is not necessary to have tried to stop the behavior yourself before approaching the Equal Opportunity Compliance Coordinator, your advisor, trusted faculty member, department chair, or staff member regarding the concerning behavior.  If the behavior appears to be based on one of the legally protected categories, and you decide to speak with your advisor, department chair, or a faculty or staff member prior to contacting the Equal Opportunity Compliance Coordinator, your advisor, department chair, or faculty or staff member will refer you to the Equal Opportunity Compliance Coordinator to discuss the matter.

18.   What do I do if I feel like I'm being harassed, but I'm not sure if I'm being harassed based on one of those legally protected bases?

Even if the behavior isn't based on one of those legally protected characteristics, conduct that is offensive, inappropriate, or interferes with your educational process is not acceptable behavior at Lehigh.  Therefore, you are encouraged to speak with the Equal Opportunity Compliance Coordinator to discuss the situation and whether or not the conduct constitutes discrimination  or harassment.  If the conduct does appear to be based on a legally protected category, the Equal Opportunity Compliance Coordinator will discuss other available options.  In the event that the conduct does not appear to be based on a legally protected characteristic, the Equal Opportunity Compliance Coordinator will likely refer you to the Dean of Students Office or to a faculty member or department chair to discuss possible ways to address the inappropriate conduct.

19.   What should I do if I witness inappropriate conduct?

If you witness discriminatory or harassing behavior, or you become aware of such behavior, you are strongly encouraged to report the behavior to the Equal Opportunity Compliance Coordinator.  Lehigh University is committed to the elimination and prevention of discrimination and harassment on our campus, and therefore, seeks the assistance of all students, faculty, and staff to report incidents of discrimination and harassment.

20.   What protection is there against retaliation if I make a report or file a complaint?

Lehigh specifically prohibits retaliation in any way against an individual who files a report or complaint of discrimination or harassment in good faith.  Lehigh also prohibits retaliation against any individual who participate in the investigation of a report or complaint.  In the event that retaliation occurs, Lehigh will respond quickly and pursue disciplinary action if appropriate.  If you believe that you have been retaliated against, please contact the Equal Opportunity Compliance Coordinator, Karen A. Salvemini, to report the incident.

21.  How does Lehigh determine whether a violation of the University's policies has occurred?

Initially, the Equal Opportunity Compliance Coordinator will evaluate whether the situation as described could constitute a violation of University policy.  If it is determined that there may have been a violation of University policy, the matter may be resolved either through a formal or informal process.

The goal of the informal resolution process is to rectify the problem.  This is a voluntary process in which a trained staff member of the Office of Student Conduct & Community Expectations or the Dean of Students Office or a member of the University's Informal Resolution Network helps to resolve issues.  This process looks for solutions to the problem without going through a formal investigation.  Informal resolutions could include the respondent modifying or stopping the behavior, separating the complainant and respondent, or reaching a mutually acceptable agreement.  The informal resolution process may not be an available option depending on the nature of the situation.  At any point in time, or if the informal resolution process is unsuccessful, the parties can request to proceed with the formal resolution process.

In a formal resolution process, two investigators will conduct a thorough investigation by speaking with the parties, interviewing witnesses, and reviewing documentation, such as emails, text messages, pictures, etc.  The complainant and the respondent will have an opportunity to review witness notes and provide comments, additional questions, etc.  At the conclusion of the investigation, a report will be drafted and a panel will review the report and determine whether a violation of University policy occurred.  In the event that the panel determines that a University policy was violated, the panel will recommend possible sanctions to the Office of Student Conduct, who will make the ultimate decision regarding the appropriate sanction.  Limited appeal opportunities are available.

22.   If I am a respondent, what type of sanctions could be imposed if I'm found to have engaged in harassing or discriminatory conduct?

Possible sanctions range from suspension to expulsion, with other lesser sanctions available depending on the specific violation of University policy and the facts and circumstances of the case.  Any prior disciplinary history will also be considered in determining the appropriate sanction.

23.   Does Lehigh have a mechanism for identifying repeat offenders?

The Equal Opportunity Compliance Coordinator tracks all reports and complaints of discrimination and harassment in order to identify any patterns of behavior, at risk populations, and/or repeat offenders.

24.   Who can I contact for more information and/or to investigate a complaint?

If you would like more information regarding discrimination or harassment or Lehigh's polices and procedures regarding discrimination or harassment, or would like to file a report or complaint, please contact the Equal Opportunity Compliance Coordinator, Karen A. Salvemini, at 601-758-3535 or at eocc@lehigh.edu.

25.   If I make a report or file a complaint, is it confidential?

If a report or complaint is filed with the Equal Opportunity Compliance Coordinator, the Equal Opportunity Compliance Coordinator will keep the matter private to the extent possible.  In certain circumstances, even if the complainant requests that a report not be pursued, the Equal Opportunity Compliance Coordinator will evaluate that request and may not be able to maintain confidentiality.  All individuals involved in the informal and formal proceedings, including parties and witnesses, are instructed and required to maintain confidentiality, but the University does not guarantee that confidentiality will be maintained.  Failure to maintain confidentiality, though, can result in disciplinary action.