Day: February 8, 2022

When Bad Behavior Becomes Sexual Harassment

by Institutional Equity

Sexual harassment is no joke. This topic is no longer off-limits, and allegations are being taken more seriously than ever before. But when does behavior cross from bad to unprofessional to sexual harassment? Is sexual harassment only egregious acts of physical touching or fondling? Does the behavior have to occur more than once before it becomes sexual harassment?

So often, recipients of sexual harassment talk themselves into believing it’s not a big deal with thoughts like this:

  • “Don’t be so sensitive. It’s just a joke.”
  • “That is a really nice skirt. Can’t you take a compliment?”
  • “Is it really that bad if they’re looking at you? Who doesn’t like attention?”
  • “Why do they have to hug me? I guess that’s just what they do.”
  • “The comments are not directed toward me, so I should mind my own business.”

Jokes, comments and actions can be harmful. Don’t justify someone else’s actions. What matters is the impact of their actions. When someone else’s behavior affects you to the point that it interferes with your employment and programs associated with employment, that is the point at which the behavior needs to be addressed.

Sexual harassment is unwelcome conduct on the basis of sex, including verbal, physical, written and visual forms. Employees are encouraged to seek assistance as early as possible to prevent the harassment from continuing and possibly becoming more serious. Whether you are reporting harassment directed at yourself, another employee or a student, the key is to report the incident(s) so any harm can be remedied, the appropriate University personnel can respond and University procedures are followed.

Don’t suffer in silence. There are multiple resources, so choose the one that best meets your needs:

Celebrating Black History Month, Week 2

Bessie Blount Griffin: A physical therapist in the late 1940’s who helped teach her amputee clients how to write using their mouths and feet. She also invented a portable apparatus that enabled amputees to feed themselves.

George Washington Carver: An accomplished botanist and inventor. He developed techniques to improve soils depleted by repeated plantings of cotton using crop rotation. He ensured the success of this technique by popularizing the new crops by developing hundreds of applications for them.

Dr. Mae Jemison: Fluent in Russian, Japanese & Swahili, was a Peace Corps medical officer and had her own private medical practice. She was the first Black woman in space (STS-47, aboard Endeavor). She was also the first real astronaut on an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation at the invitation of LeVar Burton.

Dr. Guion Bluford Jr.: An Air Force pilot who flew 144 combat missions in Vietnam. He was the first first Black man to travel into space (STS-8, aboard Challenger), and laughed the entire way: “It was such a fun ride.” Inducted into US Astronaut Hall of Fame 1997.

Alice Ball: A chemist, teacher, and researcher. She developed an injectable treatment for leprosy. She was also the first woman to graduate with a Masters in chemistry from College of Hawaii, and became the institute’s first woman chemistry instructor when she was only 23.

Dr. William Warrick Cardozo: A physician and pediatrician as well as professor at Howard University. He was a pioneer investigator of sickle cell anemia and a leader in medical research of problems affecting people of African descent.

Dr. Bettye Washington Greene: An industrial research chemist. She was the first Black female Ph.D. chemist to work in a professional position at Dow Chemical Company. She worked with latex and polymers, including interactions between latex and paper.