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Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment occurs when unwanted attention of a sexual nature interferes with a student’s ability to obtain an education, work, or participate in recreational or social activities at BYU. Sexual harassment is an abuse of informal or formal power or authority. In the few studies that have examined student-to-student harassment at colleges, as many as ninety percent of undergraduate women reported at least one negative experience in interactions with a male student.

Sexual harassment on the part of faculty may be very overt or very subtle. It is a violation of University Policy for a faculty member to engage in a romantic or sexual relationship with a student for whom he or she has academic responsibility or should reasonably expect to have such responsibility in the future. Inform the student that BYU's Gender-Based Behavior Policy, including information on discrimination and sexual harrassment, can be found at

Sexual harassment may be verbal, physical or visual and may include:

  • Derogatory, offensive, threatening or intimidating comments, epithets, slurs or jokes;
  • References to gender, physical appearance, attire, sexual prowess, marital status, or pregnancy;
  • Sexual advances, propositions or demands;
  • Displayed or circulated derogatory or offensive posters, cartoons, drawings, photographs, pin-ups, computer images or electronic media transmission;
  • Unwelcome or unnecessary and offensive touching such as assault, battery, kissing, hugging, patting, rubbing, groping, pinching, brushing up against;
  • Staring, leering, gesturing, whistling, impeding or blocking movement;
  • Pressure to spend time with a professor/teaching assistant/staff member/other student outside the academic setting, to get romantically involved or date, or personal questions that make a student feel uncomfortable;
  • Asking a student directly for sexual favors in exchange for a better/passing grade, assignment, or a favorable recommendation.

Students who are sexually harassed can be confused, worried, or angry that they don’t know how to handle the situation. They may fear retaliation. Many are worried that they are to blame for the situation. When dealing with a student who complains of sexual harassment:


  1. Take the report seriously.
  2. Validate the student’s feelings and experience.
  3. Listen and sympathize, but don’t judge.
  4. Assure the student that the university takes sexual harassment seriously and will not tolerate it.
  5. Respond to the student’s concerns. Assure the student that the institution will do everything in its power to ensure confidentiality as far as possible (but make no promises), to prevent retaliation and stop further harassment.
  6. Refer the student to either BYU's Counseling and Psychological Services at 801-422-3035; the Title IX Coordinator at 801-422-2130; the Honor Code Office at 801-422-2847; the Equal Employment Office at 801-422-5895; Ethics Point at, or 1-888-238-1062 (24-hours); or the Utah Crime Victim's Legal Clinic.
  7. Follow up with the student the next day to ensure that he or she is getting the assistance they want and need.


  1. Ignore the student.
  2. Minimize the situation.
  3. Judge whether the behavior is or is not sexual harassment.
  4. Assure the student that you can ensure confidentiality. Once an agent of the University knows about the existence of potential sexual harassment, our institution is officially “on notice.” VERIFY THE WORDING
  5. Delay referring the student to the Title IX Coordinator or Equal Employment Office. Delays of even a few days can make it more difficult to resolve the situation or send a signal to the student that the University is not taking the complaint or problem seriously.