It is unlawful to subject another individual, regardless of his/her gender or gender identity, to sex discrimination, which includes sexual harassment. RISD is committed to creating a learning, living and working environment free from discrimination, including sexual harassment and sexual violence. Members of our community, guests and visitors have the right to be free from all forms of violence and abuse, including sexual and relationship violence, stalking, sexual harassment and hate crimes. All members of our community, including guests and visitors, are expected to conduct themselves in a manner that does not infringe upon the rights of others.
RISD complies with applicable state and federal statutes, including Title IX of the federal Higher Education Amendment of 1972, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex under any education program or activity receiving federal financial aid. Sexual assault and sexual harassment are forms of sex discrimination prohibited by Title IX.
Sexual Misconduct Reporting + Resources information
Any allegation of sexual misconduct brought against a RISD student or employee, regardless of where the alleged sexual misconduct occurred, will be taken seriously. Sexual misconduct alleged to have occurred off the RISD campus may be more difficult to investigate. If a person who is not a member of the RISD community notifies RISD of alleged sexual misconduct by a RISD student or employee, RISD will determine whether the conduct described is a sufficient risk to the safety of the RISD community to review further.
Sydney Lake serves as the Title IX Coordinator and is responsible for tracking and monitoring incidents of gender based discrimination, including sexual misconduct, to ensure that RISD responds effectively to each complaint, and, where necessary, to conduct an investigation into a particular situation. RISD has also designated a Deputy Title IX Coordinator who has been trained to assist individuals with concerns of this nature: Elizabeth Rainone (Deputy Title IX Coordinator for Employees).
Examples of Sexual Harassment
Sexual harassment may include a range of subtle and not so subtle behaviors and may involve individuals of the same or different gender. Sexual harassment may occur regardless of the intention of the person engaging in the conduct. Not all behavior that is unwelcome and inappropriate is sexual harassment. Sexual harassment must be judged in context and on the basis of the totality of the circumstances, including the severity and pervasiveness of the conduct. The following are some examples of conduct that, within that context, may constitute sexual harassment:
- sexual advances or requests for sexual favors
- sexual jokes and innuendo
- verbal abuse of a sexual nature
- physical assault with sexual intent
- commentary about an individual’s body, sexual prowess, or sexual deficiencies
- leering, catcalls, or touching
- insulting or obscene comments or gestures
- display or circulation of sexually suggestive objects or pictures (including through e-mail)
- inquiries into one’s sexual activities
- conditioning a promotion, raise, grade, or other benefit on a individual’s submission to sexual demands or propositions
Harassment that does not involve sexual activity or language, but that is based on sex (e.g., a male manager yells only at female employees and not males), may also constitute discrimination if it is sufficiently severe or pervasive and directed at employees because of their sex.
Sexual harassment generally falls into two categories: Quid pro quo harassment and hostile environment harassment. Quid pro quo harassment refers to a situation where a person in a position of power or authority causes an employee to believe that he or she must submit to unwelcome sexual advances or conduct or risk a negative outcome. For example, a manager telling a supporting staff member that he/she will not be eligible for promotion unless requests for sexual favors are met is an example of quid pro quo harassment.
Hostile environment harassment occurs when unwelcome gender-based conduct is so severe, persistent or pervasive that it has the effect of creating an unreasonably intimidating, hostile or offensive working environment that adversely affects an employee’s work or a student’s academic performance. Hostile environment harassment may occur between peers and arise without a supervisory relationship. Also, the conduct that may create hostile environment harassment need not be overtly sexual, but must be based on gender (e.g., a male manager repeatedly yells only at female employees and not males)
Romantic and sexual relationships between supervisors and their employees do not necessarily involve sexual harassment. However, there is a significant potential for adverse consequences. If a supervisor enters into a sexual relationship with an employee, even when both parties have consented to the relationship, there may be serious concerns about conflict of interest as well as unfair treatment of others. No person involved in a romantic and/or sexual relationship may have direct responsibility for evaluating the performance or for making decisions regarding the hiring, promotion, tenure, compensation, or termination of the other party to the relationship.
In situations where a professional power differential exists, the person in the position of higher institutional authority must realize that if a charge of sexual harassment is subsequently lodged, it may be exceedingly difficult to prove mutual consent.
RISD strictly prohibits retaliation against any individual who reports harassment or participates in an investigation of such reports. Retaliation against an individual for reporting sexual harassment or for participating in an investigation is a serious violation of this policy and, like harassment itself, will be subject to disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment status.
Individuals and Conduct Covered
This policy applies to all members of the RISD community, including employees, faculty members, students, and visitors. RISD will take action against harassment, discrimination, and retaliation whether engaged in by a faculty member, fellow employee, supervisor or manager, or third party such as an outside vendor, consultant, or other visitor.
Conduct prohibited by these policies is unacceptable both on campus and in the context of off-campus, College-related trips, meetings, social events, and other functions.
Complaint and Reporting Process
RISD strongly urges the reporting of all incidents, no matter how minor, of perceived harassment or retaliation, regardless of the offender’s identity or position. Individuals who believe they have experienced or observed conduct that is contrary to RISD’s policy or who otherwise have concerns about such matters should make a report promptly. Reports and complaints may be made through any of the channels listed below:
- Any member of the RISD community may report behavior or conduct to the Human Resources Department, 20 Washington Place, Providence, RI, (401) 454-6606. You may bring concerns to Human Resources even if you are in doubt about the nature of a behavior; Human Resources will assist in determining the best steps to address the concerns.
- Employees may report their concerns to their immediate supervisor, if the supervisor is not the person involved. Employees should not feel obligated to talk to their immediate supervisor first, but may go directly to the next level supervisor or Human Resources.
- Supervisors, managers, faculty members, and student support staff who receive a complaint of harassment from an employee or student or who personally become aware of such behavior must report the behavior to the Human Resources Department immediately.
- Gender-based harassment complaints may also be reported to one of the College’s Title IX Coordinators.
Investigation and Enforcement
The College will thoroughly and promptly conduct an investigation of any complaint. The investigation may include individual interviews with the parties involved and, where necessary, with individuals who may have observed the alleged conduct or may have other relevant knowledge. All investigations will be treated with sensitivity and discretion and, to the extent practicable under the circumstances, in a confidential manner. The College will address confidentiality and any concerns in the initial meeting. All parties should also maintain appropriate confidentiality regarding the complaint and the investigation.
Conduct constituting harassment, discrimination, or retaliation will be dealt with promptly and appropriately. If it is determined that inappropriate conduct has occurred, action appropriate to the circumstances will be taken. Such action may range from requiring training or counseling to separation from the College and may include other forms of disciplinary action as RISD believes appropriate to the circumstances.
Harassment Awareness Training
It’s not always easy to distinguish inappropriate behavior from something more serious. Few challenges are more complex and divisive than claims of workplace and classroom harassment, but such claims often are the result of simple, unintentional, and preventable misunderstandings about the ways in which we interact with one another.
All RISD employees are urged to complete RISD’s harassment awareness program. The online program is simple to use and takes about 45 minutes to complete, with step-by-step instructions for accessing the online program. If you have questions about how to access the online program, please contact Human Resources at 401-454-6606.
Individuals who have questions or concerns about gender-based discrimination should can the College’s Discriminatory Harassment Policy or talk with the Vice President of Human Resources or a member of the Human Resources Department at 401-454-6606. Title IX Coordinators are also available to assist employees and faculty as well as students.
RISD also provides its employees, any individual who shares residence with the employee, and immediate family access to an employee assistance program to help with personal issues and situations. The service provided is 100% confidential through LifeScope, an off campus resource. Services include but are not limited to traditional assessment, counseling, and referral services.
www.lifescopeEAP.com | 1.800.828.6025. Customer Service 24/7