Racial and Sexual Harassment

The JCR's policy on Racial and Sexual Harassment is that adopted by the College, as outlined in sections 1-5 below. If you consider that you are suffering from Racial or Sexual Harassment, then you may wish to proceed straight to section 3, 'Action to take if you are racially or sexually harassed'.

1 The College’s policy

The College is committed to creating and maintaining a working and learning environment free from all forms of unlawful discrimination. The Governing Body of the College regards racial and sexual harassment as unacceptable and having no place in the College.
The following principles will guide the College’s actions:
(a) Racial or sexual harassment of one member of the University community by another is wholly unacceptable behaviour and it is the College’s policy to take any incident seriously and to act appropriately.
(b) Advisers will be available to offer advice and information as required and in confidence, to channel complaints, and to negotiate between parties.
(c) When reported, any complaint will be considered with all possible speed and the College will take appropriate action as quickly as possible. Whenever possible complaints will be dealt with by informal procedures outlined in Section 3 below.
(d) Though cases of harassment may often be resolved informally, harassment may provide grounds for disciplinary action against individuals, up to and including dismissal or expulsion from the College.
(e) Persons or bodies involved in the investigation of complaints about racial or sexual harassment may seek advice from those with training in dealing with cases of harassment.
(f) The College regards confidentiality as very important in all matters concerning allegations or complaints of harassment. Cases of alleged harassment will be investigated impartially by the College. An alleged harasser will be given the opportunity to be accompanied by a friend or adviser and will be given a clear account of the allegation so that they may state their case.
(g) If a complaint is not resolved informally, the College may be obliged by a court or tribunal to disclose information received in confidence.
(h) Unless there has been notification of a situation involving harassment the College may not be able to take steps to prevent or eliminate harassment; it is therefore important that the College authorities are kept informed of any potential complaint.

2 Definition of racial and sexual harassment

Racial and sexual harassment are difficult to define in terms of what is acceptable or unacceptable behaviour. Either form of harassment may consist of a single incident or behaviour taking place over a period of time. The following statements may be helpful.
Racial harassment has two elements:
(a) A hostile or offensive act or expression or a series or combination of such acts or expressions against a person relating to colour, race, nationality, ethnic or national origins, or religion or religious beliefs. It also includes inciting or attempting to incite a person to commit such an act or expression. Such behaviour also includes derogatory name-calling, insults and racist jokes, racist graffiti, verbal abuse ranging from belittling or suggestive remarks to threats, physical attack, and ridicule of an individual for cultural differences.
(b) The effect of such acts or expressions on the recipient is to create an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment for work, for study, or for social life, of which any reasonable person could justifiably complain. Racial harassment can occur even if offence is not intended. An aggravating feature in any case of racial harassment would be the abuse of a position of trust or authority. Differences of attitude or culture and the misinterpretation of social signals can mean that what is perceived as racial harassment by one person may not seem so to another. The defining features, however, are that the behaviour is offensive or intimidating to the recipient, is unwanted by the recipient, and would be regarded as racial harassment by reasonable people.

Sexual harassment also has two elements:
(a) It always involves unwanted attention or treatment which emphasizes sexual status or which has a sexual element. It includes harassment or discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation. Although it is most often believed that it is women who are harassed by men, sexual harassment between members of the same sex or of men by women may also occur. It can be physical, including indecent assault or rape, or verbal, ranging from belittling or suggestive remarks and compromising invitations to aggressively foul language or unwanted demands for sex, or displays of sexually suggestive or degrading pictures in the College. It also includes inciting or attempting to incite a person to commit an act of sexual harassment.
(b) The effect of such behaviour on the recipient is to create an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment for work, for study, or for social life, of which any reasonable person could justifiably complain. Any behaviour that treats a person less favourably on the ground of his or her sex is liable to cause offence, even if offence is not intended. An aggravating feature in any case of sexual harassment would be the abuse of a position of trust or authority. Differences of attitude or culture and the misinterpretation of social signals can mean that what is perceived as sexual harassment by one person may not seem so to another. The defining features, however, are that the behaviour is offensive or intimidating to the recipient, is unwanted by the recipient, and would be regarded as sexual harassment by reasonable people.

3 Action to take if you are racially or sexually harassed

Any member or employee of the College who considers that he or she is being racially or sexually harassed should follow the advice below.
It is important not to allow the behaviour to continue to a point where it becomes intolerable. By taking action early it is often possible to minimize the harmful effects of harassment on the individual. If you think that you are being subjected to racial or sexual harassment in any form, do not feel that it is your fault or that you have to tolerate it. The problem will be treated sympathetically and in strict confidence. This is what you can do:
(a) You may seek confidential advice from any of the persons listed in Section 5. It would be advisable to do this before taking any other steps. Any discussion will be confidential, and further action involving you will not be taken without your express permission. In particular, the other person or persons will not be given your name without your permission.
(b) You may not wish to speak to the person causing the offence about their behaviour but, if you are able to do so, approach the person, explain that their behaviour is unacceptable to you, and ask them to stop. You may wish to have support from a friend or adviser in taking this action.
(c) It is important to note that the possibility of counter-accusation or recrimination exists. Given that this is so, it may be prudent to alert someone else to your problem before you approach the person concerned.
(d) If you feel that you cannot make a direct approach, if the behaviour does not stop, if it resumes, or if you are still unhappy and believe that you have cause for complaint, keep a record of the details of any relevant incidents which distress you, including a note of any ways in which the incidents cause you to change the pattern of your work or social life. If you feel unable to tackle the person concerned, this does not constitute consent to the harassment nor will it prejudice any complaint you may bring.
(e) If a problem arises outside the College you may still wish to consult within the College. The university and most other Colleges have published similar procedures to those of Christ’s College and there are other sources of consultation available outside the College if you prefer.
(f) If a problem arises in connexion with University teaching, e.g. lectures, University classes, University seminars, or the supervision of Graduate Students, you can raise the matter directly with the authorities in the Faculty or Department concerned. However, even in this case you may wish to consult an adviser from the College.
(g) If a problem arises in connexion with a member or employee of another College, you can raise the matter directly with the authorities in the College concerned. However, even in this case you may wish to consult an adviser from your own College.

Remember that you are free to use any College or University channel of complaint which may seem appropriate. At any stage you can receive advice and support from those listed in Section 5 below.

4 Cases of physical assault

Unfortunately, there may be times when individuals suffer physical assault, whether involving a racial or sexual element or not.
Although you may be shocked and upset, it is important that if you have been attacked you should seek help immediately. In particular you should report the attack to the police and to the College authorities. Any one of the suggested contacts on the list in Section 5 will willingly give you support and help you to decide what to do.
If you go to them further action will not normally be taken without your express permission. You may be advised on what to do, but the choice will be yours. If you decide to go to the police or the College authorities, you need not go alone unless you so wish.
The foregoing information applies equally if you have been sexually assaulted or raped; in addition, you should seek medical help and advice immediately. Information on locally available advice and help for people who are the victims of sexual assault or rape is provided below.

5 Sources of help

For students:
Your College Tutor
Any other College Tutor (see the Screens for telephone numbers)
The Chaplain
The College Nurse
The Master
College Student Union Welfare Officer

Students may also wish to consult:
University Counselling Service (www.counselling.cam.ac.uk/students.html, telephone (01223) 332865)
Your doctor (GP)
Linkline (www.linkline.org.uk, telephone (01223) 367575)
CUSU (Cambridge University Students’ Union, www.cusu.cam.ac.uk/welfare/support)
Cambridge Rape Crisis Centre (telephone (01223) 245888)
Rape Crisis England and Wales (www.rapecrisis.org.uk)

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