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Cornell University Title IX

Promoting Gender Equity at Cornell

Sexual and Gender-Based Harassment

Sexual Harassment is any unwelcome sexual advance, request for sexual favors, or other unwanted conduct of a sexual nature, whether verbal, nonverbal, graphic, physical, or otherwise, when the conditions outlined in (1) or (2), below, are present.

Gender-Based Harassment is harassment based on gender, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression, which may include acts of aggression, intimidation, or hostility, whether verbal, nonverbal, graphic, physical, or otherwise, even if the acts do not involve conduct of a sexual nature, when the conditions outlined in (1) or (2), below, are present.

(1) Submission to or rejection of such conduct is made, either explicitly or implicitly, a term or condition of a person’s employment, academic standing, or participation in any University programs or activities or is used as the basis for University decisions affecting the individual (often referred to as “quid pro quo” harassment); or

(2) Such conduct creates a hostile environment. A hostile environment exists when the conduct is sufficiently severe, persistent, or pervasive that it unreasonably interferes with, limits, or deprives an individual’s participating in or benefitting from the University’s education or employment programs or activities. Conduct must be deemed severe, persistent, or pervasive from both a subjective and an objective perspective.

In evaluating whether a hostile environment exists, the University will consider the totality of known circumstances, including, but not limited to:

  •  The frequency, nature, and severity of the conduct;
  •  Whether the conduct was physically threatening;
  •  The effect of the conduct on the complainant’s mental or emotional state;
  •  Whether the conduct was directed at more than one person;
  •  Whether the conduct arose in the context of other discriminatory conduct;
  •  Whether there is a power differential between the parties; and
  •  Whether the conduct implicates concerns related to academic freedom or protected speech.

Because of protections afforded by academic freedom, speech and other expression occurring in the context of instruction or research will not be considered sexual or gender-based harassment unless this speech or expression also meets one or both of the following criteria:

  • it is meant to be either abusive or humiliating toward a specific person or persons, or
  • it persists despite the reasonable objection of the person or persons targeted by the speech.
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