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Human Resources

Sexual Harassment

The University of Cincinnati is committed to a professional and academic environment free of illegal discrimination. Illegal discrimination, including sexual harassment will not be tolerated. It is the responsibility of the university administration, faculty, staff, and students to ensure an environment free of harassment and discrimination.

 The policy of the University of Cincinnati prohibits members of the university community from engaging in conduct that may constitute sexual harassment. The university community includes: management personnel; staff members; faculty members; students; and customers, vendors, or contractors associated with the university. Anyone who violates this policy is subject to disciplinary action, which may include suspension or termination.

Reporting Suspected Felonies

If you learn of an unreported felony (including sexual violence), Ohio law requires you to report it to the police.

If you learn of a felony against a university employee or student, report it to the university’s Office of Public Safety. If you know about a suspected crime and you aren’t sure what to do, contact the university’s Office of General Counsel at 513-556-3483.

Policy Statements

What is sexual/gender-based harassment?

Sexual/gender-based harassment is defined as unwelcome sexual advances, unwelcome requests for sexual favors, and other unwelcome verbal, non-verbal, or physical conduct of a sexual or gender-based nature where such conduct is sufficiently serious as to deny or limit participation in the university's educational or work environment. This includes serious unwelcome conduct of a sexual or gender-based nature where:

  • Submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment or academic success; or

  • Submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment or academic decisions affecting such individual; or

  • Such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work or academic performance i.e., it is sufficiently severe or pervasive to create  an intimidating, hostile, humiliating, demeaning or sexually offensive working, academic, residential or social environment.

Sexual harassment and...


Sexual harassment may be an issue of power. It reflects a need to enhance one's self esteem by exercising power over others. Both men and women in positions of power can be guilty of harassment. In the academic community, power relationships can exist between professor and student.


Often differences in the ways professors treat male vs. female students may seem so "normal" that the particular behaviors go unnoticed. Nevertheless, taken cumulatively, behaviors which overlook or single out students because of their sex can leave many feeling less confident about their abilities, their places in the university community, and/or their potential for academic success. Besides undermining confidence, such behaviors can have a negative impact on academic development. by discouraging participation, minimizing individual learning relationships crucial for future professional development, and dampening career aspirations.


The solution to the problem of sexual harassment requires changes in the everyday behaviors, some of which are inadequate and/or subconscious. Though it may be difficult, change is possible.

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Consensual relationships

Consensual romantic and sexual relationships between a university administrator or supervisor and subordinate employee, and between a faculty member and a student are strongly discouraged. Such relationships may raise issues of forced consent, and not contribute to the pursuit of academic endeavors and the application of fair employment practices for all employees. 

Examples of sexual harassment

Sexual harassment can vary depending upon the circumstances. The following examples may constitute sexual harassment.

  • J's instructor approached him near the end of the semester and asked him, in explicit terms, for sexual favors in return for a good grade. He did not comply. He had received grades of "C" or higher on all work to that point and then received an "F" on his final exam and "D" for his final grade.
  • S wishes for the courage to ask her professor, if she were a male graduate student, would he continue touching and commenting on her appearance? She is terrified of his power to take some action against her that might damage her career, so she does nothing. She is afraid to tell anyone about it and just wants to get through the year so that she can graduate and leave.
  • R is one of few women in her class in medical school. She wants to take more classes in a particular specialty but the professor refers to female medical students in belittling and lewd terms. She needs the support of this professor to pursue this specialty but wonders if she'll ever be taken seriously, considering his attitude.

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If you believe you are being sexually harassed

  • Know your rights.
    Understand the university's Policy on Sexual Harassment
  • Confront the harasser.
    Say "NO!" loud and clear. If you feel you cannot handle a direct confrontation, write the harasser a letter. Inform the person that his/her behavior is unwanted and unacceptable. There is a chance that the harasser was not aware that his/her behavior was offensive.
  • Tell someone.
    Talk to friends of fellow students. Find out if others have been harassed by the same person and if they will support you should you decide to take action. Sharing your concern helps to avoid isolation and self-blame. You do not have to face this problem alone!
  • Seek advice.
    Contact the university's Office of Equal Opportunity to ask advice, either when the harassment first begins or after you have tried to handle it yourself. All inquiries will be kept strictly confidential.

How to file a complaint

Students who believe they have been the victims of discrimination, including sexual or other discriminatory harassment, should promptly report the incident or behavior to one of the persons designated to receive such complaints.

  • Complaint against a faculty member:
    Each college dean must designate persons who receive complaints. The names of these persons are available in the office of the college dean.
  • Complaint against a staff member:
    Complaints against employees, other than faculty, must be reported to the Office of Equal Opportunity, 513-556-5508.
  • Complaint against a student:
    Complaints against students are reported to the Department of Student Life, Judicial Affairs Office, 513-556-6812, or to the person designated by the college dean.

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