Definitions

For purposes of these policies and procedures, the following definitions apply:

Discrimination

Discrimination is defined as:

• treating members of a Protected Class less favorably because of their membership in that class; or
• having a policy or practice that has a disproportionately adverse impact on Protected Class members.

Discriminatory Harassment

Discriminatory Harassment is defined as subjecting an individual on the basis of her or his membership in a Protected Class to humiliating, abusive, or threatening conduct that denigrates or shows hostility or aversion toward an individual or group; that creates an intimidating, hostile, or abusive learning, living, or working environment; that alters the conditions of the learning, living, or working environment; or that unreasonably interferes with an individual’s academic performance. Discriminatory harassment includes but is not limited to: epithets or slurs; negative stereotyping; threatening, intimidating or hostile acts; denigrating jokes; and display or circulation (including through e-mail) of written or graphic material in the learning, living, or working environment.  Sexual harassment and gender-based harassment which are defined in detail below, are forms of discriminatory harassment.

Duty to Act

A duty to act is imposed on all management and supervisory personnel who are responsible for taking reasonable and necessary action to prevent discrimination and harassment and for responding promptly and thoroughly to any such claims. On learning directly or indirectly of conduct or behavior that might violate University policies, management and supervisory personnel are put on notice to act.  They should consult with the Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action and/or Columbia University Human Resources for advice and assistance on addressing the matter.   A manager or supervisor who fails to act may be found to have violated Columbia’s policies even though the underlying event does not constitute discrimination or harassment.

Duty to Report

A duty to report conduct or behavior that violates these policies is imposed on all University officers, including Residential Program Staff, Teaching Assistants, and Adjunct Faculty.  An officer performs her or his duty to report by reporting the conduct or behavior to the Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action or other designated office.  University officers who learn of an allegation of gender-based misconduct against a student are expected to notify Student Services for Gender-Based and Sexual Misconduct or the Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action.  University officers who learn of an allegation of discrimination or harassment against a student are expected to notify the student’s Dean of Students or the Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action. University officers who learn of an allegation of discrimination or harassment against a University employee are expected to notify the Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action. University officers who learn of an allegation of gender-based misconduct involving a minor under the age of 17 are required to notify the Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action and the Department of Public Safety.   An officer who fails to report may be found to have violated Columbia’s policies even though the underlying event does not constitute gender-based misconduct, discrimination or harassment.  University officers serving in a privileged professional capacity (mental health counselors, clergy, medical providers, and rape-crisis counselors) are not bound by this expectation, except as required by law.

Gender-based Misconduct

Gender-based misconduct includes sexual harassment, sexual assault, gender-based harassment, stalking, and intimate partner violence.  Misconduct can occur between strangers or acquaintances, including people involved in an intimate or sexual relationship. Gender-based misconduct can be committed by men or by women, and it can occur between people of the same or different sex.

Gender-based Harassment

Gender-based harassment is defined as acts of verbal, nonverbal, or physical aggression, intimidation, stalking, or hostility based on gender or gender-stereotyping.  The conduct must be such that it has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s academic performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, demeaning, or offensive learning, living or working environment.  Gender-based harassment can occur if students are harassed either for exhibiting what is perceived as a stereotypical characteristic for their sex, or for failing to conform to stereotypical notions of masculinity or femininity.

Intimate Partner Violence

Intimate Partner Violence is defined as the use of physical violence, coercion, threats, intimidation, isolation, stalking, or other forms of emotional, sexual or economic abuse directed towards a partner in an intimate relationship.
 
Protected Class

A Protected Class is a class of persons who are protected under applicable federal, state or local laws against discrimination and harassment on the basis of: race, color, sex, gender (including gender identity and expression), pregnancy, religion, creed, marital status, partnership status, age, sexual orientation, national origin, disability, military status, or any other legally protected status.

Retaliation

Retaliation occurs when an alleged perpetrator or respondent, her or his friends or associates, or other member of the University community intimidates, threatens, coerces, harasses, or discriminates against an individual who has made a complaint, or participated in any manner in an investigation, proceeding or hearing under these policies and procedures. A retaliatory action is an action taken to deter a reasonable person from opposing a discriminatory or harassing practice, participating in a discrimination or harassment proceeding or, more generally, pursuing her or his rights under these policies.   Retaliation may take the form of name-calling and taunting.

Sexual Assault as non-consensual sexual contact

Sexual assault as non-consensual sexual contact is defined as any intentional bodily contact or touching of another person in a sexual manner without that person’s consent and includes intentional sexual contact or touching of another’s breast, buttocks, or groin, however slight.

Sexual Assault as non-consensual sexual intercourse

Sexual assault as non-consensual sexual intercourse is defined as any form or sexual intercourse, anal, oral, or vaginal, however slight, without consent.  Intercourse means vaginal penetration, however slight by a penis, object, tongue or finger; anal penetration by a penis, object, tongue or finger; and oral copulation (mouth to genital contact or genital to mouth contact).

Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is defined as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal, physical or visual conduct of a sexual nature when:

• submission to such conduct or behavior is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s academic performance or learning, living, and working environment; or
• submission to or rejection of such conduct or behavior by an individual is used as the basis for    academic decisions affecting that individual; or
• such conduct or behavior has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s academic performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, demeaning, or offensive learning, living, or working environment.

Sexual harassment may include a range of subtle and not so subtle behaviors among them: sexual violence; sexual jokes and innuendo; verbal abuse of a sexual nature; commentary about an individual’s body, sexual prowess or sexual deficiencies; leering, catcalls or touching; insulting or obscene comments or gestures; and the display or circulation (including through email) of sexually suggestive or explicit objects or pictures) in the learning, living, or working environment. Sexual harassment may involve individuals of the same or different sex.  The complainant does not necessarily have to be the person harassed but could be anyone affected by the offensive conduct.

Stalking

Stalking is defined as repeated and continued harassment made against the expressed wishes of another individual, which causes the targeted individual reasonably to feel emotional distress, including fear and apprehension.