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SUNY Orange has the responsibility for preventing sexual harassment of our workforce and of our student body. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission enforces sexual harassment guidelines. Sexual harassment is a violation of federal law under Section 703 of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, as amended by the Equal Employment opportunity Act of 1972; under the Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972; and other human rights and equal opportunity laws.
What is the Law?
In 1980, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued guidelines under Title VII which state that unwelcome sexual advances, request for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when: submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly as a term or condition of an individual's employment; or submission or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment decisions affecting such individual; or such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual's work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment.
Sexual harassment of students is a violation of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which prohibits sex discrimination in education. Sexual harassment consists of unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature where grades or educational progress are made contingent upon submission to such conduct, or where the conduct has the purpose or effect of interfering with the individual's academic performance, or of creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive educational environment.
What Can You Do?
- Indicate that the conduct is unwelcome. Be firm.
- Keep a record of what happened and when. Include dates, times, places, names of persons involved and witnesses, and who said what to whom.
- Notify the Affirmative Action Officer or the Vice President for Student Development, who will offer supportive counseling and inform you of your options, and/or
- Use the college's Affirmative Action internal complaint procedure.
Sexually Harassing Behaviors
Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment in the following circumstances:
- Submission to such behavior is made a term or condition of employment, academic advancement or academic grade.
- Cindy is a student in Professor X’s class. After class, Professor X tells her that he will give her a failing grade unless she has sex with him.
- Mary is a clerical worker on campus. Her supervisor, Bob, often massages her neck, tries to fondle her breasts and asks about her sex life. When Mary said she would report him to his supervisor unless he stopped the behaviors to which she objected, Bob told her that he would make sure she was fired if she complained about him.
- Kevin has felt uncomfortable for some time about the way Mr. Z, a young instructor, and looks at him. When Kevin wishes to make an appointment to discuss his term project, Mr. Z says the only time he can see Kevin is some evening at an off-campus lounge/restaurant.
- In its more blatant forms this type of behavior can be prosecuted as a criminal act. Even banter along this vein may cause harm.
- Such behavior negatively interferes with a person’s work or academic performance or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive working or academic environment.
- Debbie is a student in a class where most of the students are men. The professor often makes sexist references and comments on the novelty of women in this field. Once when Debbie asks a question just before the class ends, the professor says he would discuss the matter with her after class. He uses a tone of voice that causes most of the men in the class to snicker. Debbie decides to drop the class.
- Paula is a secretary at the college. Her male co-workers tell dirty jokes near her desk, display sexist cartoons on the office bulletin board and describe the scenes in X-rated movies to Paula. They comment to Paula and each other about Paula’s clothes, rating them on their “sex appeal.” She feels upset and ill every day when she comes to work anticipating the remarks they make. When she complains to her supervisor, he says that “boys will be boys” and she should just go along with the jokes.
Frequently Asked Questions on Sexual Harassment
Can I be engaging in sexually harassing behavior even if I have no intention of sexually harassing?
Yes. The law says that behavior can be sexually harassing if it has the purpose or effect of substantially interfering with an individual’s work or academic performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment. In cases where the alleged harasser did not intend harm, the courts have decided that it is not the intent of the doer that matters, but the impact (i.e., the effect) of the behavior on the person being harassed, or more specifically, on any reasonable person standing in that person’s shoes. If any reasonable person, standing in the shoes of the recipient, would find the behavior to be sexual harassment, then it is sexual harassment. Recognizing that men and women often have different life experiences and views as to what constitutes sexual harassment, some courts apply the reasonable woman standard when the harassed person is a woman, and the reasonable man standard when the harassed person is a man. See, e.g., Ellison v. Brady, 924 F.2d 872 (9th Cir. 1991).
Can I assume that my behavior is welcome, and thus not sexual harassment, if the recipient does not object?
No. While this is particularly true for supervisors, everyone should be cautious about assuming that silence implies consent. In the Meritor case, decided in 1986 by the U.S. Supreme Court, the Court found that a supervisor’s sexual advances to a subordinate were unwelcome and were sexual harassment, even though the subordinate’s response to those advances was to have sexual intercourse with the supervisor on several occasions. Meritor Savings Bank v. Vinson. 477 U.S. 57 (1986). The court said, in essence, that the critical question was not, “How did the recipient of the advances respond?” but “Were the advances unwelcome?” It found that the advances were unwelcome and noted that the employee felt that decisions affecting her career might be affected by her response to the advances. It found that any reasonable person standing in her shoes would have found the advances to be unwelcome and that they constituted sexual harassment.
Do men and women have different perceptions of what constitutes sexual harassment?
Of course, generalizations can be misleading and do not apply to everyone. However, several studies suggest that many men and women do see things differently, and that their experiences are quite different. According to a study cited in Sexual Harassment on the Job, by attorneys William Petrocelli and Barbara Kate Repa, Nolo Press, 1994, 15% of the men said they would be offended by sexual advances at work, while 75% said they would be flattered. Over 75% of the women said they would be offended by sexual advances at work.
Are there hypotheses for why many men and women have significantly different experiences?
Socialization probably explains most of the difference. Over the years, our society seems to have developed different standards of behavior for men and women. We have accepted a “boys will be boys” mentality, excusing those boys and men who harass girls and women because it’s “natural” for boys and men to behave that way. Instead, it is probably learned behavior, and as such it is behavior that can be unlearned.
Can faculty and staff be guilty of sexually harassing students?
Yes. According to a 1984 study, 30% of undergraduate women experienced one or more levels of sexual harassment from a professor during their undergraduate years. Dzeich and Weiner, 1984, cited in Educator’s Guide to Controlling Sexual Harassment, Thompson Publishing Group, June 1994.
Can students be guilty of sexually harassing faculty and staff?
Yes. Students can create a sexually hostile work environment for faculty and staff. Some of the literature refers to this type of harassment as contra-power sexual harassment, since we often think of harassers as people who are in positions of power. However, people who are not in positions of power can be found guilty of sexual harassment.
Can an employee be guilty of sexually harassing another co-worker?
Yes, co-workers may have been in a workplace longer or have more influence with other co-workers or the supervisor. A co-worker making sexual comments, touching or intimidating another worker is engaging in sexually harassing behavior.
What about my right to freedom of speech?
The law makes it clear that we do not have an absolute right to say whatever we want whenever we want without regard to the impact of our comments on the recipients of our speech. But we have never had an absolute right to free speech. We have no right to yell “Fire!” in a crowded movie theater when there is no fire. Nor do we have the right to spread damaging lies about others; we’ll be sued for libel or slander if we do.
Yes, the rules regarding sexual harassment place consequences on us if we subject others to unwelcome behavior of a sexual nature. Indeed, we may not speak freely about sexual matters and ignore the impact our conversation is having on others. Nor may we display sexually explicit material in our work space if it is having the impact of being sexually harassing on others. Robinson v. Jacksonville Shipyards, 760 F. Supp. 1486 (1991). The rules say that unwelcome behavior or comments of a sexual nature must stop. Those rules are actually just prodding us to behave professionally and respectfully.
How can I avoid sexually harassing coworkers and students?
Here are a variety of suggestions, which come from a variety of perspectives:
- Observe the “platinum rule”— treat people the way they want to be treated.
- Ask yourself if you would want your parent, spouse, sibling, or child subjected to the kind of behavior you are considering. Or, ask how you would feel if any of those people were to see you behave the way you are considering behaving.
- Ask how you would feel about having your behavior published in the newspaper.
- Become more keyed in to how people respond to your comments. If people wince when you talk about certain things, or if you are the only one initiating conversations on certain topics, then perhaps those topics are not welcome and you should drop them.
- You might consider talking only about work when at work. Remind yourself when you enter your place of employment that the standards for the appropriateness of dialogue are not the same at work as they might be among good friends or in other social settings.
- You might consider adding sex to the list of things one doesn’t discuss in certain settings, along with politics, religion, and sports.
- Always keep in mind the potential costs to your finances, to your reputation, and to your career that a lawsuit for sexual harassment would entail.
How do I avoid even the appearance of impropriety?
To avoid even the appearance of impropriety, keep office and work area doors open whenever possible. Avoid sexist remarks, off-color stories, or lewd jokes. Ask someone to accompany you if you suspect that a meeting you are planning will be uncomfortable for you or for the other party. Make it plain that your intentions are not sexual in nature. Focus on the business at hand. Make it clear, through your behavior, conversation, and actions, that you find sexual harassment offensive and inappropriate. Treat others respectfully and professionally.
Methods for Dealing with Sexual Harassment
(Not listed in order of preference or importance)
- Handle the situation yourself:
- Say “NO”; say it firmly, without smiling, without apologizing.
- Keep a diary or log. Write down what is happening to you. Include direct quotes, any witnesses, or patterns to the harassment. Have your log witnessed periodically. Save any letters, cards, or notes sent to you. Keep both the log and notes in a secure place, preferably at home.
- Tell the harasser, in writing, that you object to this behavior. Describe the specific things which offend or upset you. Give the letter to the harasser in front of a witness. Keep a copy of this letter.
- Discuss the harassment with others: friends, fellow students, colleagues, support groups.
- Report incidents to your department chairperson, supervisor, or the Affirmative Action Officer, Orange Hall, 341-4662.
- File a written complaint. Contact the Affirmative Action Officer, Orange Hall 341-4662, who is a resource for people who believe they have been subjected to discrimination. While identifying yourself generally helps us investigate your concern most effectively, if you prefer, leave an anonymous message.
- Employees may also seek relief through the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, NY Regional Office, Room 1615, 26 Federal Plaza, New York, NY 10007; or through court action.
Students may also seek relief through the Office of Civil Rights, U.S. Department of Education, 75 Park Place, 14th Floor, New York, NY 10007 or through court action.
Further information concerning SUNY Orange’s commitment to non-discrimination is available from the Affirmative Action Officer in Human Resources, Orange Hall.
The Affirmative Action Office is always available to discuss alleged incidents or problems associated with sexual harassment. Employees and students may simply inquire in confidence about their options or they may choose to file an internal complaint using Grievance Procedure for the Review of Allegations of Sexual Harassment. For further information, contact: (845) 341-4660.
Because of the sensitive nature and potential consequences of a sexual harassment complaint, every effort will be made to maintain confidentiality within the limits of the law. All participants in a complaint must maintain due regard to confidentiality.
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
90 Church Street
New York, NY 10007
Office of Sexual Harassment Issues
NYS Division of Human Rights
55 Hanson Place, Suite 307
Brooklyn, NY 11217 1-800-427-2773
Some of the information in this section was reprinted with permission from a Binghamton University publication entitled Sexual Harassment.
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Employee and Student Regulations on Alcohol and Drug Use
in compliance with "the Drug-Free Schools and Communities Amendments of 1989" as mandated by section 22 of public law 101-226, and the Drug-free Workplace act of 1988, SUNY Orange will make the following information available to all its students and employees annually:
As an employee of SUNY Orange, a Unit of the State University of New York, one should be aware of the following policy which must be adhered to as a condition of employment:
The unlawful use, possession, manufacture, dispensation, or distribution of controlled substances at all work locations is prohibited.
Advance written approval and authorization is required from the President of the College for the consumption of alcohol at faculty functions.
Employees who unlawfully manufacture, distribute, possess, or use a controlled substance will be subject to disciplinary procedures consistent with applicable and collective sanctions outlined in section II, Disciplinary Sanctions.
Employees must notify the Human Resource Office of any criminal drug statute conviction for a violation occurring in the workplace, or at a work site, no later than five (5) working days after such a conviction.
In accordance with the SUNY Orange Student Code of Conduct:
The unlawful purchase, manufacture, possession, use, distribution, or consumption of alcohol and other drugs on all campus sites or college-sponsored events is prohibited.
No alcoholic beverages may be bought, manufactured, possessed, used, distributed, or consumed on campus or elsewhere as part of college activities unless written approval is received in advance by the President of the College.
As of December 1, 1985, the legal minimum age to purchase alcoholic beverages in New York State was changed to 21. Under the law, no person can sell, deliver, or give away any alcoholic beverage to any person under the age of 21. Visitors of all SUNY Orange campus sites are expected to adhere to the Standards of conduct regarding alcohol and other drugs required of employees and students.
Disciplinary Sanctions of the College
Local, state and federal laws stipulate mandatory fines and imprisonment of individuals convicted of possessing, using or distributing illicit drugs or alcohol on campus and at all college sponsored events. SUNY Orange will strictly enforce the Code of Conduct which specifies the disciplinary measures for students who have been found to have possessed, used or distributed drugs or alcohol on college property and at all college sponsored events. The disciplinary measures specified for students in the Code of Conduct include: written reprimand from the Vice President for Student Development placed in the student file; non-academic probation which specifies the terms of continued attendance at the College; suspension from the College; dismissal from the College. Disciplinary measures and sanctions are determined following a hearing by the Board of Inquiry.
The written findings of fact and recommendations shall be forwarded to the Vice President for Student Development for action within two business days after the end of the hearing under normal circumstances.
The Vice President for Student Development may accept, reject, or modify the recommended sanction. The sanctions, as determined by the Vice President for Student Development, shall be implemented unless an appeal is filed.
The Vice President for Student Development shall communicate his/her decision in writing to the Respondent, the Board of Inquiry, the Judicial Advisor, the Complainant (as appropriate with concern to the Respondent’s privacy rights) and any other appropriate College authorities. Under normal circumstances, the Vice President for Student Development shall communicate their decision within five business days after receipt of the Board of Inquiry’s recommendation. Any appeal of this decision will be forwarded to the President who will make final disposition.
The disciplinary measures specified for employees include: completion of an appropriate rehabilitation program; sanctions resulting from a hearing pursuant to Section 75 of the New York State Civil Service Law. These sanctions include one of the following; a reprimand, a fine, suspension without pay, demotion, or dismissal.
In addition to disciplinary action and college sanctions, students and employees found possessing, using, or distributing illegal drugs and alcohol on college property may be referred to local authorities for prosecution.
Health Risks from Alcohol and Drugs
There are both physical and emotional risks associated with the excessive use of alcohol and the use of illegal drugs. A partial list of these risks includes:
- Alcohol - cirrhosis of the liver, toxic psychosis, neurological damage, physical and emotional dependency. Alcohol use is also a factor in 40-60 percent of all personal injury auto accidents.
- Illegal Drugs - physical and emotional dependency, depression, convulsions (possibly resulting in death), toxic psychosis.
- Any hallucinogenic drug may intensify an existing psychosis.
Assistance is available for any student or employee who believes he or she has a drug or alcohol related problem. In addition, assistance may be available for immediate family members of employees. One is encouraged, and in some situations may be required, to seek assistance from professional services either on or off campus based on professional recommendation(s). All inquiries will be kept confidential.
On campus, the office of the Wellness Center (located in the Shepard Student Center, 2nd floor ext. 4870) serves as a referral agent. Professionals who deal with individual drug users in a patient/client relationship may keep records; such records are protected by professional ethics of confidentiality.
SUNY Orange Wellness Center
(Shepard Student Center, 845-341-4870)
Employee Assistance Program (EAP)
Additional services may be found by contacting:
Alcoholics Anonymous – 845-534-8525
Group support and informational services.
National Institute on Drug Abuse Hotline
An information and referral line that directs caller to treatment centers in the community.
Substance Abuse Resources Directory
State Hot Line 1-800-522-5353 Monday-Friday
8:00 a.m. to 12:00 midnight
AA (Alcoholics Anonymous)
Alcoholism & Drug Abuse Council of Orange County
244A Main Street
Goshen, NY 10924
Orange County Drinking Driver Program
Orange County Stop DWI
Warwick Community Bandwagon
PO Box 21 Hamilton Avenue
Telephone: (845) 986-6422
Middletown Alcohol Clinic
OC Dept. of Mental Health
21 Center Street
Middletown, NY 10940
Newburgh Alcohol Clinic
OC Dept of Mental Health
104 Second Street
Newburgh, NY 12550
Telephone: (845) 568-5200
PIUS XII Chemical Dependency Program
- 10 Orchard St, Middletown
- 520 Rt. 17M, Monroe
- 62 Grand Street, Newburg
Pius XII Cocaine Clinic
224 Main Street, Goshen, NY
Alcohol Detox Programs
Alcohol Crisis Center
Arden Hill Hospital
Harriman Drive, Goshen
Main St. Cornwall
ORMC Horton Campus
St. Lukes Methadone
70 Dubois St., Newburgh
(845) 561-4400, (ext. 233)
RECAP Day Treatment
PO Box 886, Middletown
Mercy Comm Hospital
160 E. Main St. Port Jervis
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Human Resources Information:Phone: (845) 341-4660
Fax: (845) 341-4670
Located in Orange Hall,
115 South Street Middletown, NY 10940