HGSE has adopted the university-wide Interim Title IX Sexual Harassment Policy and Interim Other Sexual Misconduct Policy. In addition, the university’s Sexual and Gender Based Harassment policy addresses sexual harassment and other sexual misconduct alleged to have occurred between September 1, 2014 and August 14, 2020. Copies of all policies and their associated grievance procedures can be found here. In all such cases, the Harvard University Office for Dispute Resolution (“ODR”) and the Harvard University Title IX Office are responsible for implementing the university’s grievance procedures, which will determine whether a student committed a policy violation. Whenever a formal complaint of sexual harassment or other sexual misconduct is investigated and the university’s grievance procedures result in a finding that a policy violation has occurred, the HGSE Committee on Rights and Responsibilities (CRR) must accept that finding as final and non-reviewable. The only opportunity to appeal the determination of a policy violation is provided within the grievance procedures implemented by the ODR and the Harvard University Title IX Office. Appeals within HGSE pertain only to the decision of the HGSE Committee on Rights and Responsibilities (CRR) in determining discipline.
Other Forms of Harassment and Discrimination
Harassment and discrimination can create an environment in which access to education and employment is diminished. HGSE is committed to principles of equal opportunity and nondiscrimination and seeks to maintain an atmosphere free of harassment by, among other things: condemning acts of harassment when they occur; creating opportunities for HGSE community members to discuss and resolve potential conflicts; offering a curriculum that reflects and respects the contributions, experiences, and concerns of a diverse population; encouraging pedagogies and management strategies that promote active participation by all members of the HGSE community; and promoting diversity within the student body, faculty, administration, and staff.
Harvard University prohibits harassment and discrimination based on race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, creed, national origin, age, ancestry, veteran status, disability, or any other legally protected basis. HGSE is committed to maintaining an environment in which students, faculty and staff can work together freely to further education and research. Our community cannot thrive unless each member is accepted as an autonomous individual and is treated with civility.
HGSE is also committed to principles of free inquiry and expression. All members of the HGSE community have the right to hold and vigorously defend and promote their opinions. Respect for this right requires that community members must respect the rights of others to express opinions that they may find repugnant.
These principles are consistent. There are obligations of civility and respect for others that underlie rational discourse. Harassment not only shows grave disrespect for the dignity of others but also impedes the free discussion and exchange of ideas.
This policy statement seeks to define the circumstances under which behavior affecting the HGSE community may constitute impermissible harassment or discrimination and grounds for disciplinary action. It also seeks to clarify the point at which protected free expression ends and prohibited harassment or discrimination begins.
The following discussion addresses discrimination and harassment other than sexual and gender-based harassment. Sexual and gender-based harassment are governed by the policies and procedures adopted by the university and implemented by HGSE, and set forth in this Handbook.
HGSE’s policy is to make decisions concerning applicants, students, faculty, and staff on the basis of the individual’s qualifications to contribute to Harvard’s educational objectives and institutional needs. It is also impermissible for any member of the HGSE community to engage in harassment of others. The principle of not harassing or discriminating against individuals based on characteristics such as race, color, sex, gender identify, sexual orientation, religion, creed, national origin, age, ancestry, veteran status, or disability unrelated to job or course of study requirements is consistent with the purposes of a university and with the law.
Harassment or discrimination is particularly objectionable when it involves the abuse of HGSE authority.
Discrimination and harassment may be grounds for disciplinary action including without limitation censure, probation, requirement to withdraw, dismissal, or expulsion.
Certain physical acts may constitute harassment, for example: physical intimidation, defacing or damaging property, interference with freedom of movement, and other forms of behavior that violate federal or state civil rights laws. Under HGSE policy, such acts are impermissible whether or not they are based on certain characteristics (such as race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, creed, national origin, age, ancestry, veteran status, or disability). Physical harassment is subject to discipline regardless of whether it is accompanied by verbal or symbolic expression.
Purely Verbal or Symbolic Harassment
Certain purely verbal or symbolic expression also may constitute harassment and may violate federal or state civil rights laws. Depending on the circumstances, verbal expressions may be subject to discipline where, from the standpoint of a reasonable person, they (1) are addressed directly to one or more persons; (2) insult, stigmatize, or intimidate those persons; and (3) indicate grave disrespect and intent to demean those persons.
Such harassment, even though purely verbal or symbolic, is contrary to the pursuit of inquiry and education and may be punished under existing procedures because it violates the balance of rights on which the university is based.
Grievance Procedures for All Other Allegations of Harassment, Discrimination and Retaliation
The following procedures should be used by HGSE students for the prompt and equitable resolution of grievances alleging unfair action on the part of the University administration or faculty, including discrimination based on race, color, religion, creed, national origin, age, ancestry, veteran status, disability, or any other legally protected basis (with the exception of allegations related to discrimination, harassment, or retaliation on the basis of sex, gender identity, or sexual orientation, which are covered by the Interim Title IX Sexual Harassment Policy, the Interim Other Sexual Misconduct Policy, and the Sexual and Gender-Based Harassment Policy. The procedures for these policies can be found here. In addition, if a student with a disability disagrees with a determination of academic or non-academic accommodations, the student may request reconsideration of the decision by following the Harvard University Student Disability Grievance Policy and Procedure.
The following procedures should also be used by a student who believes they have been subject to retaliatory academic action based on conduct protected under the HGSU-UAW bargaining agreement. Using an academic assessment or other academic action as a means to retaliate against a student for engaging in conduct protected by the HGSU-UAW bargaining agreement is unacceptable and prohibited. Prohibited academic retaliation includes basing a grade, academic credit, attribution of authorship, denial of an academic opportunity, or other academic judgment on a student’s exercise of a right conferred by the agreement.
Informal Resolution of Grievances (not involving allegations of sexual harassment, including gender-based harassment, or other sexual misconduct)
A student considering lodging a grievance against another student or other individual who is not a member of the University administration or faculty, and which does not involve behavior covered under the School’s disciplinary procedures, should discuss the matter with one of the following people: Program Co-Chairs, Program Assistant Director, Director for Master’s Studies, Director of Doctoral Programs, Associate Dean for Enrollment and Student Services Sr. Associate Director of Student Affairs, Director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB). If the grievance cannot be resolved informally, the student may ask the associate dean for enrollment and student services to arrange for mediation of the dispute or to conduct some other process appropriate to the particular circumstance; the process may or may not include elements of the formal grievance procedure described below.
A student with a grievance against a member of the faculty or administration should initially take the matter to one of the following people: Program Co-Chairs, Program Assistant Director, Director for Master’s Studies, Director of Doctoral Programs, Associate Dean for Enrollment and Student Services Sr. Associate Director of Student Affairs, Director of DEIB. Grievances concerning accommodations for disabled students generally should be taken to the associate dean for enrollment and student affairs. If the grievance cannot be resolved satisfactorily between the student and the initial faculty/administration contact, the student may, at their discretion, seek resolution via the formal procedure outlined below.
Formal Grievance Procedure (not involving allegations of sexual or gender-based harassment or other sexual misconduct)
An aggrieved student may request resolution of the grievance by initiating the following formal procedure:
- A formal grievance is a complaint in writing from the student to the associate dean for enrollment and student services. (In the event that the complaint is against the Associate Dean for Enrollment and Student Services, the written complaint should go directly to the academic dean.) The written complaint should be filed within two months of the alleged incident(s) and should include the following, as appropriate:
- Statement of the allegation
- Description of the alleged facts
- Summary of steps the student already has taken in attempt to resolve the problem
- Name/s of the person/s thought to be responsible for the alleged events
- Other facts considered to be pertinent to the case
- Signature of the person initiating the complaint
- The Associate Dean for Enrollment and Student Services will then provide the information to the academic dean who may refer the case to a committee that handles cases related to academic integrity and behavior, the Committee on Rights and Responsibilities. The committee (or a subgroup of at least 3 members of the committee) shall be convened within ten working days of receipt of the written complaint by the Associate Dean for Enrollment and Student Services, or sooner if immediate action is required. In cases where the complaint is against a faculty member, additional faculty members may be added to the committee/subgroup to ensure that it includes people of equal to or higher faculty rank than the faculty member involved in the complaint. In all cases, confidentiality shall be maintained during the selection and appointment process.
- The committee shall investigate the grievance. This investigation shall include, but need not be limited to:
- Meeting/s with the person aggrieved and the person/s grieved against. They will receive support from a representative from an appropriate office listed below, and that representative will not have decision making power regarding the case.
- Students will receive support from the Office of Student Affairs. Such support shall be in addition to a HGSU-UAW member’s right to a HGSU-UAW student representative or UAW representative at any and all steps of the process.
- Faculty will receive support from Faculty Affairs.
- Staff will receive support from Human Resources. Staff may also receive support from their manager/supervisor.
- Consultation with others, including the associate dean for faculty affairs if the grievance is against a faculty member, as the committee deems necessary to provide a thorough investigation of the grievance, including other mitigating or extenuating circumstances that bear upon the situation.
- An examination of any and all written documents, media, and other artifacts related to the case.
- The committee shall expeditiously consider the facts of the case and present a report to the Academic Dean who will then share it with the Dean of the School. The report shall include findings of facts and recommendations, if any. Reasonable precautions shall be taken to ensure the confidentiality of information obtained at meetings of the committee. The committee also shall work diligently to conclude the investigation promptly and to take any needed remedial action.
- Upon receipt of the report from the committee, the Academic Dean and Dean of the School may exercise the following options:
- Take whatever action they feel is warranted, using the report of the committee as advisory information.
- Return the matter to the committee for further consideration. This action returns the grievance to Step 3 of this procedure.
- The final action of the academic dean and dean of the School constitutes the formal completion of the grievance procedure. The final action is communicated to both the person aggrieved and the person/s against whom the formal complaint was filed. Once the procedure is completed, all records of the meetings of the committee and the final report of the committee shall remain in the possession of the Associate Dean for Enrollment and Student Services and will be treated with appropriate confidentiality. If the case involves a faculty member, copies of the records shall remain with Faculty Affairs. If the case involves a staff member, copies of the records shall remain with Human Resources.
- Any request for exceptions to the foregoing should be addressed to the associate dean for enrollment and student services. By mutual agreement of the Associate Dean for Enrollment and Student Services and the student, the stated formal procedure may be waived in favor of a procedure more appropriate to a particular circumstance.