UC Santa Cruz Title IX/Sexual Harassment Office

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What is Sexual Harassment?

The University of California defines sexual harassment as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when:

  • Submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of instruction, employment, or participation in any University activity;

  • Submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as a basis for evaluation in making academic or personnel decisions affecting an individual;

  • Such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual's performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive university environment.

In determining whether the alleged conduct constitutes sexual harassment, consideration shall be given to the record as a whole and to the totality of circumstances, including the nature and frequency of the conduct and the context in which the alleged incidents occurred.

Sexual harassment may be distinguished from sexist attitudes in that sexual harassment is both sexual in content and behavioral, rather than attitudinal.

It is not unlawful to hold sexist attitudes, as long as they are not translated into discriminatory treatment. Harassment by someone with the power to affect your employment or academic relationship includes situations in which any person with institutional authority explicitly threatens negative consequences, or promises positive consequences, as a means of securing acquiescence to unwelcome sexual behavior. While such explicit conditioning of academic or employment benefits upon acceptance of sexual advances may be rare, supervisors, instructors, and others with institutional authority should be aware that in some circumstances, a student or employee may feel that tolerating unwelcome behavior of a sexual nature is the tacit price s/he must pay in order to receive the services and benefits to which s/he is entitled. Such behavior is a violation of the UCSC Policy on Sexual Assault, the UC Policy on Sexual Harassment and Procedures for Reports of Sexual Assaults and Sexual Harassment.

Whereas this type of harassment can be perpetrated only by a person with institutional authority, a sexually hostile and intimidating environment may be created by the actions of instructors, supervisors, subordinates, or peers.

Behaviors that may contribute to a hostile environment include, but are not limited to:

  • verbal, non-verbal, and physical sexual behaviors
  • coerced sex
  • sexual jokes and innuendoes
  • remarks about a person's body
  • turning discussions inappropriately to sexual topics
  • whistling or cat calls
  • looking a person up and down or staring in a sexually suggestive manner
  • invading someone's personal space or blocking her/his path
  • sexually explicit visuals such as pin-ups
  • suggestions of sexual intimacy
  • repeated requests for dates
  • unwanted letters, electronic mail or other computer communications
  • unwanted gifts
  • touching, hugging, massaging, and other gestures or sounds that a reasonable person of the same sex as the recipient would find offensive

It is important to be aware that in many instances, the intentions of the accused may be regarded as irrelevant in determining whether her/his behaviors constitute sexual harassment; it is the effect of the behavior on the recipient that may define a hostile environment.

If any of this conduct is occurring because of your sex, it may be a violation of The UCSC Policy on Sexual Assault, The UC Policy on Sexual Harassment and Procedures for Reports of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment:

  • Unwelcome sexual advances or requests for sexual favors.
  • Unwelcome physical, verbal, or nonverbal behavior of a sexual nature or based on sex.
  • Uninvited, unwanted and/or unsolicited attention/conversations.
  • Terms of endearment.
  • Sabotaging a person's work or academic standing.
  • Withholding information.
  • Exclusion from informal meetings/social events.
  • Sexual jokes, comments, or innuendoes.
  • Cartoons or visuals that ridicule or denigrate a person's gender.
  • Employment or academic decisions that are based solely or partially on a person's gender.
  • Sexual assault, and/or rape.







Contact Rita Walker , Title IX Officer: 105 Kerr Hall . email: rew@ucsc.edu . phone 831.459.2462 * 831.459.4825