2.6 Policy on Sexual Harassment

2.6.1 General




Ithaca College is committed to maintaining a campus environment that promotes dignity and respect for all individuals consistent with the principles of academic freedom.  Sexual harassment undermines these ideals as well as the College's overall mission as an educational institution.

Ithaca College reaffirms that every member of the College community has a right to an educational and/or employment setting that is free from sexual harassment.

Sexual harassment is a form of misconduct. Any individual who engages in sexual harassment is subject to sanctions, up to and including termination or dismissal. Supervisory and managerial personnel who knowingly allow such behavior to continue will also be subject to sanctions, up to and including termination.

2.6.2 Definitions

Sexual Harassment:

Sexual harassment may take a variety of forms and refers to a broad spectrum of conduct that can range from unwelcome sexual comments to physical assault. Sexual harassment may have different definitions under different federal and state laws.

Consistent with the federal regulatory definition of sexual harassment from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (see 29 CFR 1604.11) and New York State law (Executive Law § 296(h)), Ithaca College defines sexual harassment as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when: 

  1. submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly as a term or condition of an individual's (a) employment, (b) academic status, or (c) participation in or use of a College sponsored or approved activity or resource; or
  2. submission to, or rejection of, such conduct by an individual is used as a basis for (a) employment, (b) academic decisions, or (c) other decisions affecting an individual’s ability to participate in or use a College sponsored or approved activity or resource; or
  3. such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual's work or academic performance, or of creating an objectively and subjectively intimidating, hostile, or offensive employment or educational environment.
  4. such conduct subjects an individual to inferior terms, conditions or privileges of employment

In determining whether the alleged conduct constitutes sexual harassment, the College will look at the totality of the circumstances, including the nature of the alleged conduct and the context in which the alleged conduct occurred.  Determinations will be made from the facts, on a case by case basis.

Below is a non-exhaustive list containing examples of conduct that could fall within the definition of sexual harassment if it occurs in, or impacts, the employment or academic environment:

  • Sexual advances or propositions by a College employee toward an individual accompanied by an implied or overt threat concerning the targeted individual’s academic assessments, workplace performance evaluations, or participation in programs, activities, or assignments.
  • Persistent sexual advances or propositions after an individual has expressed disinterest in receiving such advances or propositions.
  • Exchanging sexually-charged gestures, noises, remarks, jokes or comments about an individual’s actual or imagined sexual behavior, sexual orientation, sexuality, which creates an objective and subjective hostile working or educational environment for the targeted individual or other bystanders.
  • Displaying or broadcasting inappropriate images, text, or sound, (such as pictures, posters, graffiti, text messages, video footage or other media) that are sexually demeaning or pornographic. This includes sharing such material directly with a willing recipient in a way that is observable to other employees, students, vendors/contractors, or other College community members who are not willing participants.
  • ​Bullying (including but not limited to badgering, name-calling, intimidation, adverse employment/academic action, or sabotaging) an individual because of, or with reference to, the targeted individual’s actual or perceived sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, conformance to assumed sex stereotypes, or exercise of their right to bring a complaint of sexual harassment or sexual misconduct.

Other Defined Terms:

Gender Identity or Expression:

In accordance with New York State law, the term 'gender identity or expression' means a person's actual or perceived gender-related identity, appearance, behavior, expression, or other gender-related characteristic regardless of the sex assigned to that person at birth, including, but not limited to, the status of being transgender (see NY Executive Law § 292). 


Consistent with the federal regulatory definition of retaliation (see 34 CFR 100.7(e)), Ithaca College defines retaliation as any intimidation, threat, coercion, or discrimination against any individual (1) for the purpose of interfering with any right or privilege secured by College policy or applicable civil rights law, (2) because that individual made a complaint, testified, assisted, or participated in any manner in an investigation, proceeding or hearing under College policy or applicable civil rights law, or (3) because that individual opposed conduct prohibited by College policy or applicable civil rights law.

No individual shall suffer retaliation, harassment, or other adverse consequences as a result of making a good faith report of a suspected violation of this policy, or for cooperating in the investigation of such a report. An individual who retaliates against someone who has made such a good faith report and/or cooperated in the investigation of such a report is subject to discipline up to and including termination of employment or expulsion.

Intimidation or threats of retaliation against anyone exercising their right to bring a complaint, make an inquiry, or participate in the complaint process will not be tolerated and will be treated as a violation of the College's sexual harassment policy.

Sexual Orientation:

In accordance with New York State law, the term 'sexual orientation' means heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality or asexuality, whether actual or perceived (see NY Executive Law § 292).


2.6.3 Responding to Sexual Harassment

Reports of sexual harassment against any individual should be made to the Title IX Coordinator or to a responsible employee (see College Policy 2.1.4 for a list). The College shall respond to complaints of sexual harassment promptly and equitably. Complaints against employees will be resolved using the formal and/or informal procedures of the Ithaca College Guidelines for Resolving Discrimination Complaints (see College Policy 2.7). Complaints against students will be resolved using the formal and/or informal procedures of the Ithaca College Student Conduct Code (see College Policy section 7.1.2).

Ithaca College may facilitate resolution of complaints through informal means when appropriate. If attempts at informal resolution are unsuccessful, or if the Office of Human Resources, the Office of Judicial Affairs, the Office of Public Safety, as appropriate, determines that an informal approach would be inappropriate or ineffective, the complainant may request resolution through the formal discrimination complaint procedures.

In the discrimination complaint-resolution process, confidentiality will be maintained as appropriate and possible.

Individuals who violate this policy are subject to disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal.

Tenure, the exercise of academic freedom, years of service, or job-related authority neither insulate individuals from complaints nor influence the enforcement of the College's policy prohibiting sexual harassment.

2.6.4 Relationships BETWEEN EMPLOYEEs and Students

Pursuant to the College's Intimate Relationship Policy, no faculty or staff member shall have a romantic and/or sexual relationship, consensual or otherwise, with a student. In addition, no employee shall engage in any action objectively intended to solicit an intimate relationship with a student. 

Please see Section 2.46.2 "Intimate Relationships Between Employees and Students" for more details.

2.6.5 Relationships between Employees

Pursuant to the College's Intimate Relationship Policy, an intimate relationship between a supervisor and their supervisee is prohibited unless (1) the intimate relationship is promptly disclosed as soon as possible at the onset of the relationship to Human Resources using the process described in section 2.46.4, (2) a management plan that is acceptable to the Office of Human Resources and that removes any supervisory, instructional or evaluative authority between the supervisor and their supervisee is created, and (3) the management plan is followed by the supervisor and supervisee.  Any action by a supervisor which is objectively intended to solicit an intimate relationship with their supervisee is also prohibited. 

Please see Section 2.46.3 "Intimate Relationships Between Employees" for more details.

2.6.6 Enforcement of Policy

Responsibility for ensuring enforcement of this policy is delegated to (a) the Office of Human Resources when the alleged harasser is an employee, (b) the Office of Judicial Affairs when the alleged harasser is a student, and (c) the Office of Public Safety when the alleged harasser is neither an employee nor a student. Faculty members and staff with supervisory responsibilities are expected to maintain an employment and educational environment that is free of sexual harassment.

Ultimately, however, preventing sexual harassment and creating an environment in which such behavior is recognized as unequivocally unacceptable requires commitment from all members of the community.

2.6.7 External Remedies and Federal, State and Local Law

Sexual harassment is not only prohibited by Ithaca College but is also prohibited by state, federal, and, where applicable, local law. Aside from the internal process at Ithaca College, individuals may also choose to pursue legal remedies with the following governmental entities:

NYS Division of Human Rights

New York Human Rights Law (NY Executive Law § 290 et seq.) prohibits discrimination the basis of " age, race, creed, color, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, military status, sex, disability, predisposing genetic characteristics, familial status, marital status, or domestic violence victim status" in employment, housing, education, credit, and access to public accommodations. A complaint alleging violation of the Human Rights Law may be filed either with the Division of Human Rights (DHR) or in New York State Supreme Court.

DHR’s main office contact information is: NYS Division of Human Rights, One Fordham Plaza, Fourth Floor, Bronx, New York 10458. You may call (718) 741-8400 or visit: www.dhr.ny.gov.

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces federal anti-discrimination laws, including Title VII of the 1964 federal Civil Rights Act (codified as 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq.).   An employee alleging discrimination may file a complaint with the EEOC. The EEOC has district, area, and field offices where complaints can be filed. Contact the EEOC by calling 1-800-669-4000 (TTY: 1-800-669-6820), visiting their website at www.eeoc.gov or via email at info@eeoc.gov.

Local Government

Local laws may be applicable, as well.  In Tompkins County, complaints of sexual harassment may be filed with the Tompkins County Office of Human Rights. Contact their office at 120 W. Martin Luther King, Jr. Street, Ithaca, NY 14850; call 607-277-4080; or visit http://tompkinscountyny.gov/humanrights/office.

Last Updated: September 12, 2022